Democrats file two bills creating tax holidays for energy-efficient appliances

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Two Democratic lawmakers are proposing Florida create a month-long sales-tax holiday for buying energy-efficient appliances, that is if can passes the GOP-led Legislature.

Democratic State Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel and Sen. Eleanor Sobel filed two bills establishing October as sales tax free for a number of energy-efficient appliances priced under $1,500.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam pushed a similar plan as part of an energy agenda for the 2014 session, released in the next few weeks, reports Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida.

The legislative proposals — HB 769 and SB 740 — would create a list of tax-free energy efficient consumer items, including:

  • Compact fluorescent or light-emitting diode (LED) lighting fixtures
  • Programmable thermostats,
  • Ceiling fans
  • Appliances such as dishwashers, refrigerators, stoves, clothes washers, water heaters, and air-conditioner units that meet or exceed energy Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star efficient requirements

Items purchased for commercial use would not apply.

Putnam’s plan should be completed by mid-February, said spokesperson Aaron Keller in an email to the News Service Friday.

“We have been working with partners in the Legislature to hammer out the specifics of Commissioner Putnam’s energy proposal,” the email states.

Included in Putnam’s proposal will also cut in half the current 7 percent sales tax on energy used by businesses, which expands existing residential property-tax exemptions when companies install renewable-energy systems.

Putnam, who outlined his legislative agenda in October at Orlando’s 2013 Energy Summit, also recommends launching a study on the state’s future natural-gas requirements.

This is the third sales tax holiday for consideration in the March 4 legislative session.

Gov. Rick Scott calls for a 15-day hurricane sales tax holiday, as well as extending the popular back-to-school tax holiday period to 10 days.

Republican Sen. Anitere Flores filed SB 792 Friday, which re-establishes the back-to-school tax holiday on clothes, supplies and electronics for three days, from Aug. 1-3.

Republican Sen. Rob Bradley filed SB 362 creating a period to purchase hurricane-related items tax-free for 12 days in June. State economists estimate taxpayer savings of nearly $3.6 million.

Scott’s 15-day tax holiday could save consumers up to $20 million, Turner notes.

Sen. Dorothy Hukill, chair of the Finance and Tax committee, filed an amendment to extend the period to the Scott-recommended 15 days, from May 31 to June 14.

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Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range included covering news, local government and nightclub reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for an online metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013 and lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.