Dorothy Hukill is moving up the Senate ladder and thats good news for fiscal conservatives.
Despite 2013 being her freshman year in the Senate, Hukill was a leading figure in that chamber, especially in regard to pushing the manufacturing sales tax exemption. This ranked as one of Rick Scotts chief legislative priorities in 2013. This also made Hukill the Manufacturers Association of Florida Legislator of the Year in 2013. Hukill has also been an adamant foe on collecting sales tax from online sales.
Hukill came roaring back in 2014, pushing tax cuts including reducing the Communication Sales Tax by 2 percent, saving Floridians more than $240 million if it had been adopted. While she came up short in her efforts there, she has come back with tax cuts, calling to slash the communications services tax by 2 percent again and cutting the commercial lease sales tax and the corporate income tax.
This time out, Hukill has more leverage. She will be vice chair of the Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee but, more importantly for her cause, she will head up the Finance and Tax Committee. This gives her more leeway to push her bills. Hukill led that committee last time out but Rick Scott had his own tax cuts. Now Hukill has more room to maneuver.
Having won a full four-year term in 2014, Hukill is safe for the time being. In 2012, she drew a major Democratic foe for an open Senate seat when she squared off against Frank Bruno who was well-regarded in the area for his time on the Volusia County Council. The stakes were high and both sides poured hundreds of thousands into the race while outside groups and the major parties ran TV and radio ads. But, despite Barack Obamas and Bill Nelsons coattails, Bruno couldnt keep it close. Hukill won with 57 percent. Despite representing a swing district, Hukill cruised to another term in 2014 over far lesser opposition. Hukill might be a little to the right of some of her voters but she does have deep ties to the area, rising up in Port Orange politics where she eventually served as mayor.
Its tough to see Hukill setting her eyes on other political opportunities since she is 68 and fellow Republicans are blocking her way up to Congress. But its safe to say, based on her performance so far in the Senate and her time in the House, that she should remain a conservative and pro-business force in the Legislature for some time to come. At the very least, Hukill should have more luck as she attempts to lower taxes in the coming session.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.