Neil Combee: Florida Should Publish Online All Local Government Taxes and Fees

By: Eric Giunta | Posted: December 24, 2012 3:55 AM
Rep. Neil Combee, R-Polk City
Neil Combee

Date of Birth: June 12, 1959
Birthplace: Lakeland
Residence: Polk City
Education: High School Diploma
Occupation: Agribusiness, real estate sales
Previous Public Office(s): Polk County Commissioner, 1988-2004
Family: Wife, two children
Did you know? Is a distant cousin to Florida Supreme Court Justice Charles T. Canady and, possibly, fellow freshman Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-New Port Richey.
One of Polk County’s newest legislators is an old county farm boy who says his priorities in the 2013 session will focus on helping Florida’s local governments to be as business-friendly as possible.

Freshman Rep. Neil Combee, R-Polk City, has been a farmer his entire life, and has also worked in real estate. He sat on the Polk County Commission from 1988 to 2004. He sums up his goals for the upcoming legislative session succinctly: “We need to create a better climate for businesses and job growth in our state.”

That’s more than just a talking point for District 39’s representative, who sits on the House’s Regulatory Affairs Committee and the Economic Development and Tourism Subcommittee – two assignments he specifically requested – as well as the State Affairs Committee and the Government Operations Subcommittee.

Combee is drafting at least two pieces of legislation which he believes will empower local communities to attract both businesses and residents.

The first is a bill that would require the state to publish, in a central online database, the taxes and fees imposed by every one of the Sunshine State’s 67 counties and 410 municipalities. He says he’s “had a number of conversations” with Gov. Rick Scott on the matter, and believes the resource would be useful for local public officials and prospective business owners and homeowners.

“It would be a tool for local decision-makers and a tool for folks interested in finding their spot in the Sunshine State,” Combee tells Sunshine State News. “People should be able to know ahead of time how much it will cost to live someplace, build a home, or start a business.

“When I was a county commissioner for 16 years, hardly a week went by when we didn’t want to know how we [in Polk County] were stacking up against our neighbors, in terms of business environment and affordability,” he continues. “We’ve never had real good information on that.”

Combee’s original idea was for the Legislature to put together some sort of panel to rank every city and county in terms of its taxpayer-friendliness, but he feels the creation of his proposed database is a modest first step in that direction, and in any event, “the numbers will speak for themselves.”

His second proposal is a bill that will exempt booster clubs and similar organizations from onerous regulations from the health department and fire marshals that, at least in Polk County, have prevented them from cooking hamburgers, hot dogs, and similar concessions at games and other community events.

Combee’s not the first in his family to take an interest in politics. One of his father’s cousins was a county commissioner – coincidentally, also for a 16-year tenure – and Combee himself is a third cousin of one of Florida’s most prominent public servants: state Supreme Court Justice Charles T. Canady.

“Canady’s grandmother was a Combee,” he tells the News. “I’ve always admired him and have been friends with him going way, way back; I’ve sought his advice and help over the years. He’s quite the political strategist.”

Combee might also be a distant relation of another freshman legislator: state Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-New Port Richey.

“His mother’s a Reynolds, and my grandmother was a Reynolds,” Combee tells the News. “But I haven’t yet researched the exact connection.”

Reach Eric Giunta at egiunta@sunshinestatenews.com or at (954) 235-9116.

Comments (5)

10:14AM DEC 26TH 2012
Noooo! Don't publish the taxes and fees people have to pay!! They might find out that Florida really isn't a low tax state as the government and main stream media tell you. Let's see who fights this common sense idea...government unions and government itself will spend loads of taxpayer money to keep this one from ever happening.
10:49AM DEC 27TH 2012
common sense ? florida is already ranked in the top five business friendly states and has been for yrs, because of it's low corporate tax base . Fact .
what has it gotten us ? more jobs ? good paying jobs ? where are they ?
give me the details of such a plan, then will we see. right now it simply looks like more excuses to weasel another corporate tax break into the budget somewhere to benefit those who will be a lobbyists upon ending their political career.
12:18PM DEC 24TH 2012
" make florida more business friendly " sounds like the mantra for more corporate giveaways, especially if he was discussing it with rick scott. i see a lobbyist job in his future.
Jack Lee
3:01PM DEC 24TH 2012
You need to move to California with your anti business Attitude and get out of our state. We in Florida want to bring people out of poverty by giving them jobs. Rick Scott and Our republican legislator has done a great job on keeping our taxes low attracting business and balancing our budget unlike the failed blue states that the democratic party controls.

People of Florida Rise up and Vote Republican ! Don't let the RATS have any control of anything

Rick Scott 2014 !!!
8:49AM DEC 25TH 2012
taxes have always been low in florida and the budget gets balanced every yr by law. get your facts straight. i was born here, i know poor governance when i see it, and i see it. anti business never, anti corporate theft for sure. loose the republican taking points and gain some credibility.

Leave a Comment on This Story

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.