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Special Session "C" Expanded to Include Property Tax Reform

October 10, 2007

Moments ago we learned that the current Special Session has been expanded to include the issue of property tax reform. Legislators have been given until Monday, October 22 to work on this issue, although we expect proceedings to be completed by Thursday or Friday of next week.

Below is a letter from Senate President Ken Pruitt (R-Port St. Lucie) on the expansion of the call.

October 10, 2007

Dear Senators:

Last week, Governor Charlie Crist asked the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate to consider calling a Special Session on the issue of property tax relief and reform. At that time, Speaker Marco Rubio and I agreed to either call a new Session or extend the current Special Session; however, I firmly believed it would not be productive for our Senate to engage in property tax discussions until after we finished our work on the budget.

Now that we are in the 72-hour waiting period on the budget, we can shift our full focus to the issue of property taxes.

We find ourselves in the position of providing a new property tax plan because of the recent trial court ruling in the Hersch v. Browning case which has put the future of tax relief for Florida property owners in doubt. In order to ensure Floridians have the chance to vote on a tax relief amendment this January, we must act by the end of October.

Fortunately, our Senate property tax negotiators from both sides of the aisle worked hard during the last regular session to thoroughly examine and evaluate a number of ways to accomplish property tax relief and reform. The ideas that are being circulated now are components that have been reviewed before. In fact, some of the ideas were in our original bill that passed the Senate unanimously during the 2007 Regular Session.

I would like to provide you with an outline of a bill that will represent the Senate Property Tax reform package; it is my hope that we can send you a summary later today. We do not have draft bill language at this time, but will provide it to you on Friday.

The Speaker and I will extend the current special session until midnight on October, 22, 2007. I anticipate the Governor will add property tax reform to the special session call later this week. After consultation with Majority Leader Webster and Minority Leader Geller, I have decided on the following schedule:

- Friday, October 12, the Senate will convene at 11:30 a.m. and work through 2:00 p.m. on the budget and conforming bills. The proposed property tax package will be distributed for your review over the weekend. Staff will be available Friday to answer any questions you may have.

- Monday, October 15, there will be an extended public workshop on the Senate property tax relief package in the Finance and Tax Committee. All Senators are encouraged to attend the workshop.

- Tuesday, October 16, the Finance and Tax Committee will meet to take up the tax package and go through the amendatory process.

- Wednesday, October 17, the Senate will go into session for second reading on the bills.

- Thursday, October 18, session will be held for third reading, if necessary.

I hope this information will be helpful as you make your travel plans over the next two weeks. Property tax relief is our collective goal, and I look forward to working together to ensure Florida taxpayers will get the results they deserve.

Most Sincerely,

Ken Pruitt