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Lawmakers look to carry out solar amendment

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A proposal to carry out a renewable-energy tax break that voters approved in the August primary election continued moving through the Senate on Tuesday.

The Community Affairs Committee unanimously backed the bill (SB 90) to enact Amendment 4, which lawmakers put before voters to extend a residential renewable-energy tax break to commercial and industrial properties.

Bill sponsor Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, said the bill, which also passed the Senate Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee this month, "will greatly expand the opportunity for solar in the Sunshine State."

Laura Youmans, a lobbyist with the Florida Association of Counties, said concerns remain that the amendment may impact revenues for rural and mid-sized counties.

Under Brandes' proposal, the tax exemptions in Amendment 4 would begin in 2018 and last for 20 years.

Voters approved a similar exemption for residential property owners in 2008, with the measure taking effect in 2014.

Amendment 4 also has an element to help residential property owners, as it would exempt all renewable-energy equipment from state tangible personal property taxes.