- 2014 - February - 3rd -

Dems seek energy-efficient sales tax holiday

By Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida

Two Democratic lawmakers have filed measures to create a month-long sales tax holiday for purchases of energy-efficient appliances.

However, the measures are expected to be overtaken in the Republican-dominated Legislature by an effort featuring Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s energy agenda for the 2014 session, including a similar sales tax holiday. That effort should be rolled out in a couple of weeks.

The proposals (HB 769 and SB 740) by Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee, and Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, would designate October as sales-tax free for certain energy-efficient appliances costing $1,500 or less.

The tax-free items would include compact fluorescent or light-emitting diode (LED) lighting fixtures, programmable thermostats, ceiling fans, dishwashers, refrigerators, stoves, clothes washers, water heaters, and air-conditioner units that meet or exceed energy efficient requirements under the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program.

The exemption wouldn’t apply for products purchased for commercial uses.

Meanwhile, Putnam’s proposal should be ready by the second week of February, Aaron Keller, Putnam’s spokesman, said in an email on Friday.

Putnam’s proposal also is expected to include an effort to cut in half the 7 percent sales tax on energy used by businesses, an expansion to commercial properties of an existing residential property-tax exemption on installing renewable-energy systems, and undertaking a study on Florida’s future natural-gas demands.

Putnam outlined his legislative agenda in October during the 2013 Energy Summit in Orlando.

The tax holiday proposal is the third introduced for the legislative session that starts March 4.

Gov. Rick Scott has pitched a 15-day hurricane sales tax holiday and a 10-day back-to-school discount period.

On Friday, Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, filed a measure (SB 792) that would establish the back-to-school tax holiday for three days, from Aug. 1 to Aug. 3, on clothes, supplies and electronics.

Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, has proposed (SB 362) a 12-day period in June for hurricane-related items to be sales-tax free.

The governor’s office has projected the discount when offered for 15 days would save consumers up to $20 million.

Bradley’s measure goes before the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee today.

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