House to Senate: No homestead exemption increase, no gambling bill

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The fate of this year’s gambling bill is being held hostage to passage of a homestead exemption increase, sources told FloridaPolitics.com Sunday night.

Publicly, lawmakers have been saying that progress on omnibus gambling legislation was taking a backseat to the 2017-18 state budget talks.

The Conference Committee on Gaming hasn’t met since last Thursday. The Senate is largely for some expansion of gambling in the state; the House wants to hold the line.

Behind the scenes, however, House leadership made the decision to put gambling on hold until the Senate moved on the House’s priority bill, an increase in the state’s homestead exemption that would effectively result in a property tax reduction.

Even if passed, the measure creates a constitutional amendment that still has to be approved by 60 percent of voters on the 2018 statewide ballot.

It’s on the Senate floor for a vote Monday afternoon.

“Everyone is on pins and needles on lots of issues waiting for that vote,” said one veteran lobbyist. “Everything melts down if the Senate doesn’t pass it.”

But the measure is bitterly opposed by many Democrats and local governments, who say cutting taxes means less money to fund critical local services like police and fire. It wouldn’t affect taxes to fund local public schools.

But House Speaker Richard Corcoran and his lieutenants made clear, according to lobbyists in The Process, that the gambling bill “and a whole lot of other stuff” will suffocate and die without passage of the exemption measure.

“Session comes to a halt without the homestead bill,” another consultant said.

Signals from the Senate of how badly it wants a gambling bill this year have been mixed.

Sen. Bill Galvano, the Bradenton Republican and likely Senate President for 2018-10, has long been the chamber’s point man on gambling.

At the first conference meeting, Galvano said he did not “want to raise anybody’s expectations,” at the same time adding that “inaction (on gambling) is not an option.”

Neither he nor state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, a Miami-Dade Republican and Galvano’s House counterpart in the Gaming conference, responded to a request for comment.

The night before the Monday vote, a gambling lobbyist sent a text, saying things were “scary … I’m nervous.”

Jim Rosica

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at [email protected]


4 comments

  • eric keaton

    May 1, 2017 at 3:59 am

    That wish.list of demands is going to be the main reason the 2o17 gambling bill dies again this year. Thanks Galvano. Where’s your sense of priority.? Fixing the exclusivity clause with the Seminole for less than 2.billion and for more than 7 years with craps and roulette was going to open a pathway for florida to improve upon future infrastructure needed to accommodate future gambling locations.

    And asking to disregard federal judgments awarded is just hitting below the belt. The senate is about to be 0-2 in passing gambling legislation.. The house doesn’t even have to draw a line anywhere as long as that Compact continues to be treated as is if its nothing more than a short term lease with options to terminate due to unfavorable weather.

    Why is the Compact even being treated as a bill.? Its a Tribal-State agreement between 2 separate governments negotiated by the governor of florida and the chairman of the seminole. I believe Rubio was wrong about bringing that lawsuit against Crist. We can all see that Galvano is simply using the Compact as a Trojan Horse and its obvious to see this idea bears no fruit.

    What appears to behave insidiously is indeed attempting to act boldly through clever falsehoods. To hornswoggle the seminole inside a bottleneck only to watch florida voters be given authority to vote to legalize and yet still remain powerless due to incompetence.

    To the House, Senate and Gov. – Re.Negotiate in good faith. I believe your idea of slot exclusivity is misunderstood and essentially illegal. Slots are by law legal in FL, having been made so by referendum held in broward and dade counties. IGRA says what ever is legal in the state is also legal to the tribe. Only then should revenue sharing negotiations over blackjack exclusivity occur. And nothing more.

  • Leon

    May 1, 2017 at 9:40 am

    Looks like the underline agenda is turning Florida into Las Vegas. The slot machines have been granted to the parimutuels in a effort to compete, but all parimutuels have removed their name “Dogs, Horses and Jai-alai” from their name and seeking decoupling. What then would be the provisions to open a facility with slots? Could there be slots in gas stations or grocery stores? Full blown casinos in Florida?

  • Leon

    May 1, 2017 at 9:41 am

    Looks like the underline agenda is turning Florida into Las Vegas. The slot machines have been granted to the parimutuels in a effort to compete, but all parimutuels have removed their name “Dogs, Horses and Jai-alai” from their name and seeking decoupling. What then would be the provisions to open a facility with slots? Could there be slots in gas stations or grocery stores? Full blown casinos in Florida?

  • Faye Lapp

    May 1, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    Voters need to choose and will be able to either way the legislature votes—in November 2018

Comments are closed.


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