Florida Realtors 2014 Legislative Priorities
Sales Tax on Commercial Leases:
1= Number of states that tax commercial leases
Bringing new companies to Florida — to provide jobs, build strong communities and generate tax revenues — is critical to the state’s economic growth and development.
One is the loneliest number, particularly when you’re trying to attract new business and you’re the only state in the country that charges a sales tax on commercial leases.
For Florida to be competitive with other states and online retailers — and considered business-friendly by prospective employers and companies seeking to relocate — we must begin to phase out the sales tax on commercial leases.
The time is now. Compared to other states, Florida ranks No. 36 in attracting new business from a tax perspective, according to a 2012 survey by Site Selection. We rank No. 20 in “Competitiveness” and No. 10 overall — well behind neighboring states of Georgia and Alabama, and other Southeastern states.
A commercial lease sales tax shouldn’t be a deal breaker for companies looking to relocate to Florida. In the first year, a complete repeal of the tax would create 185,000 new jobs and $20 billion in economic impact. That's five times more than the tax revenue impact.*
VOTE YES for SB 176 by Sen. Dorothy Hukill (R-Port Orange) and HB 11 by Rep. Greg Stuebe (R-Sarasota) to lower the commercial lease sales tax from 6% to 5% beginning in 2014.
*Economic Impacts of Sales Tax Reduction on Commercial Property Leases, Fishkind & Associates, August 2013.
$291 million….Sadowski Funds available FY 2014-15
Housing matters…to our elderly on fixed incomes, to low-income families and to tens of thousands of Floridians — many of them school-age children — who have no place to call home. Dedicate all monies collected from the Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Funds for their intended purpose — housing — or reduce the amount of documentary stamp tax charged for the fund.
In 1992, Realtors® strongly supported an increase in the documentary stamp tax on deeds for all real estate transactions by 10 cents per $100 of value IF all of the monies collected went to housing programs.
That hasn’t been the case since 2002.
During years of state budget shortfalls, legislators swept Sadowski monies into general revenue.
This year, there’s a $1.2 billion surplus.
This is the year to put the TRUST back into the affordable housing trust funds.
These funds can be put to work right now to:
• Fund housing programs for the homeless. Florida Realtors asks you to support legislation sponsored by Sen. Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater) and Rep. Kathleen Peters (R-St. Petersburg) that would direct a portion of Sadowski funds to the Department of Children and Families for homelessness programs. For the 2011-2012 school year, Florida’s public schools identified 63,685 students as homeless. As a state, we can do better for future generations of Floridians. Vote YES for SB 1090/HB 979.
• Provide downpayment and closing cost assistance to teachers, firefighters, first responders and others who serve our communities.
• Rehabilitate existing houses and apartments in dire need of repairs — homes for the elderly and persons with disabilities who might otherwise live in an institutional setting.
There’s another reason to dedicate all Sadowski monies toward housing — jobs. The $291 million available for housing programs in FY 2014-15 would create more than 27,000 jobs and add $3.4 billion to the Florida economy.
$4…. Amount of flood insurance premium paid by a Floridian for every $1 of claim collected.
Florida Realtors®’ efforts to create a competitive and sustainable property insurance market continue. True reform demands an approach that produces long-term solutions that fit broad market needs, and addresses the concerns of consumers, businesses and industry groups. We seek your support for two initiatives:
Continue to develop a private insurance market alternative to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Vote YES for SB 542 by Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg), HB 581 by Rep. Larry Ahern (R-Seminole) and HB 789 by Rep. Ed Hooper (R-Clearwater). Congress is working to stop the wave of high insurance premiums that resulted from the passage of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012. Congress is currently considering reforms that will bring stability, certainty and smaller rate increases to the NFIP.
Florida’s nearly 2 million flood insurance policyholders, however, contribute more — significantly more — in premiums than they get back in claims payments. And for that reason, Florida lawmakers should continue seeking to provide a regulatory framework that will attract private market alternatives to the NFIP, and rates that more accurately reflect risk.
Vote YES for HB 143 by Rep. Jake Raburn (R-Valrico) and SB 346 by Sen. Tom Lee (R-Brandon), which lengthen the amount of time property insurance companies have to pay assessments to the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (FIGA). FIGA is a nonprofit corporation that pays claims on behalf of insolvent insurance companies. If FIGA does not have sufficient funds to pay claims when another company goes bust, FIGA can issue two types of assessments against solvent companies to raise funds — emergency and regular assessments. HB 143/SB 346 would allow FIGA to collect assessments in monthly installments if it has enough funds to pay claims for six months or more. This is important to insurance companies considering writing policies in Florida, because unexpected assessments reduce a company’s surplus and the funds available to pay its own claims. Note that these bills do not alter the amount of potential assessments — emergency and regular assessments remain capped at 2 percent — or the financial exposure for Floridians.
11,000…. Miles of rivers, streams and waterways in Florida
As the Legislature lays the groundwork for a comprehensive statewide water plan, Realtors want you to know what’s important to the millions of property owners who are drawn to the state’s natural beauty and call Florida home.
Water Quality: Florida Realtors® supports programs that keep our springs, lakes and other water bodies free of harmful pollutants. Any approach to manage these levels should be science-based and comprehensive. Completion of the Department of Health’s Onsite Sewage Nitrogen Reduction Strategies study is necessary to understand how onsite wastewater systems work in different areas of the state. The focus of the study is the new passive technologies used in onsite wastewater systems — septic tanks. Please support $650,000 in funding to complete the Department of Health's Florida Onsite Sewage Nitrogen Reduction Strategies Study. The study is in its final phase and simply requires an extension of time and the remainder of money to fulfill the original contract.
Water Quantity: Some areas of the state are starved for fresh water and looking for alternative sources, while others may suffer through dry months, only to be inundated during the rainy season with more water than sensitive ecosystems can handle. This has been the case for nearly a decade in the Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee basin. When waters in Lake Okeechobee rise to dangerous levels, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers releases the excess water — often polluted with toxic algae — into nearby rivers and estuaries. There are many tracts of land around Lake Okeechobee where excess water could be stored if the Florida Legislature or water management districts have authorization to pay landowners. Please fund alternative storage options that alleviate some, if not all, of these disastrous outflows.
A comprehensive, well-funded and managed statewide water policy will begin to turn the tide on a crisis that’s been decades in the making. Together, we can restore one of our state’s greatest assets — our waterways.