Battle Ground States News

Support Soars for Rick Scott's Sales-Tax Break on Hurricane Items

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: January 29, 2014 3:55 AM
Rick Scott and Rick McAllister

Rick Scott and Rick McAllister

Gov. Rick Scott's proposal this week for a 15-day sales tax holiday for hurricane supplies starting June 1 is getting the support of the Republican leadership in the Legislature and the leadership of the business community.

Under Scott’s proposal, batteries, flashlights, first-aid kits and other supplies would be covered for the first two weeks of June. Hurricane season starts June 1 and ends on Nov. 30.

“This 15-day sales tax holiday will help Florida families prepare for hurricane season and let them keep more than $20 million,” Scott said on Monday, when he unveiled the proposal. “This tax holiday will allow families to better protect and safeguard their homes during a storm.”

The Florida Retail Federation (FRF) came out in strong support of the proposal Monday.

“Floridians have learned many times that we must always be prepared to be self-reliant in the event of a major storm,” said Rick McAllister, president and CEO of the FRF. “A tax break is a great way to make readiness supplies more affordable for families, and the sales tax holiday will be a good opportunity for retailers to help raise awareness of the need for Florida’s residents to be ready for storms and other emergencies.”

At a media event in Tallahassee Tuesday, McAllister doubled down on his support of the proposal, insisting it could help lead to a boom in retail jobs. Noting retail jobs grew 5.5 percent in Florida last year, adding 55,000 new jobs to the Sunshine State, the FRF is planning to make the hurricane supplies tax holiday proposal one of their chief legislative priorities in the coming session. 

“Our top priority always has been to continue strengthening Florida’s economy by creating more jobs and making sure consumers get value for every dollar spent,” said McAllister on Tuesday. “That’s why FRF is championing several consumer-friendly measures during the 2014 legislative session that will complement the governor’s efforts to create more jobs and opportunities in our state.”

McAllister said on Tuesday, the FRF is also backing Scott’s proposal for a 10-day sales tax holiday for back-to-school shopping, for closing the Internet sales tax loophole and supports Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s call for a sales tax holiday for Energy Star and WaterSense appliances.

Other leaders of the business community also chimed in with their support of Scott’s proposal.

“Having a plan and being prepared makes all the difference when it comes to weathering a storm in Florida,” said David Hart, the executive vice president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. "Governor Scott’s hurricane sales tax holiday will encourage more Floridians to prepare for future storms, and it will go a long way toward ensuring Floridians are safe. Governor Scott’s hurricane sales tax holiday proposal is a win for Florida families and a win for Florida’s small businesses.”

The Republicans who control both chambers of the Legislature also show signs of getting on board with Scott’s proposal.

“Preparedness is key when a storm is approaching,” said Florida Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Wellington. “This 15-day sales tax holiday will enable all Florida families to be prepared and keep their homes safe this hurricane season.”

The proposal is being sponsored by Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Orange Park, and Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar. Both bills will be facing commitees next week.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.


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