South Florida lawmakers see priorities advance in Tally

TALLAHASSEE — Two Palm Beach County Republicans had a pretty good Wednesday as their priority bills moved forward through the committee process in the state House of Representatives.

Marylynn-Magar-head-shotState Rep. Marylynn Magar, whose 82nd District includes northern Palm Beach and southern Martin County, got a favorable vote from the Economic  Development and Tourism Subcommittee  on her bill to exempt manufacturing equipment from the state sales tax, also one of Gov. Rick Scott’s priorities.

Bill Hager, elected in 2012 to the 89th  District, moved his bill to reform the Hurricane Catastrophe Fund – state-backed reinsurance that helps keep primary insurance premiums lower —  through the Government Operations Appropriation Subcommittee.

Magar, a freshman representative, said her bill is aimed at small businesses, which might not have the staff or expertise to take advantage of the current system, which she said favors large businesses with the resources to pursue tax rebates after the money has been spent on equipment.

“It’s different if you’ve got a room full of accountants,” she said.

She said the bill, HB 391, will help businesses throughout her district’s area, whether marine-related and aerospace on the coast, or agricultural in the west.

Wednesday was the first day the bill had been heard in committee – late for this point in the session. But Magar said she never lost hope it would move forward.

“I’ve always been confident,” she said, but, “I was a little nervous.”

The bill’s next stop is the finance and Tax Subcommittee.

Hager said his bill, HB 1107, is intended to shrink the Cat Fund liabilities to a level where it will be able to pay what it owes if disaster strikes.

“So when the storm comes, it can pay all its claims,” he said.

Right now, it can’t, he said, “and everybody knows it.”

“That’s unacceptable,” he said.

The bill’s next stop is the Regulatory Affairs Committee.

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