The No. 1 legislative issue for Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association this Florida legislative session, SB 312, has hit a snag in the House of Representatives. The bill would provide sales tax exemptions to Florida farmers.

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby) and HB 575 by Rep. Ben Albritton (R-Wauchula). The snag is House Finance & Tax Subcommittee Chairman Ritch Workman (R-Melbourne). Workman has not agreed to agenda HB 575 and has indicated that he doesn’t have the funds available to pay for the $15 million in sales tax exemptions that would be provided to growers by this legislation.

On the Senate side, the bill has not hit any snags as Simpson continues to move this proposed legislation forward. This week, SB 312 unanimously passed the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Finance and Tax chaired by Sen. Dorothy Hukill (R-Port Orange). With three weeks left in the session, SB 312 has only one more committee stop before it can be considered by the full Senate for a floor vote

The House and Senate are on the verge of negotiating dueling tax-cut proposals. There are other differences in the tax-saving packages being proposed by the House and Senate that will have to be worked out in conference. Workman said the hurdle for the negotiations will be the total amount of the tax cuts because the Senate proposals exceed the cap on spending that was set for his committee by House leaders.

Workman said, “The conference should be fantastic. It will be really short or long and awesome, and I’m hoping for long and awesome. Both Hukill and I have the same machismo for the tasks we’ve had ahead of us this year, which was to cut taxes, so it ought to be fun either way, because the end result either way is a tax cut.”

The plan at this time for our tax cut proposal is to pass SB 312 in the Senate and send it over to the House in an attempt to break the snag out of the way of HB 575. At the same time, Albritton and House Speaker-Designate Steve Crisafulli (R-Merritt Island) haven’t given up hope and continue to work to overcome the snag during the conference on tax cuts.