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Marco Rubio, Rick Scott, propose ‘opportunity zones’ for disaster area investment

Investors could receive tax breaks for investing in select disaster areas.

Florida’s Republican U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott are introducing a bill that would create “opportunity zones” much like those identified in the 2017 tax cut act, which would allow governors in states hit by natural disasters to target low-income areas for additional relief.

Their “Disaster Opportunity Zones Act” borrows from the strategy set forth in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act , allowing governors to affected by the 2018 hurricanes and wildfires to nominate up to 25 low-income census tracts, which then would be places where investors could receive tax breaks for investing in companies or property.

“Local communities devastated by recent natural disasters, like Hurricane Michael, are still struggling to recover from the catastrophic loss of jobs and business,” Rubio stated in a news release issued by his office. “The Disaster Opportunity Zones Act would help stimulate local economies and encourage private investment from job creators by allowing many of these areas to become opportunity zones.”

Florida, specifically the areas in the panhandle devastated by Hurricane Michael, and California, where wildfires ravaged several communities, would be at the top of the list to benefit.

“The Disaster Opportunity Zones Act will make a real and lasting difference for our communities impacted by Hurricane Michael,” Scott stated in the release. “I’m proud to sponsor this bill to bring new capital investment and more jobs to Florida’s Panhandle as we continue to recover and rebuild following Hurricane Michael. Over my eight years as Governor, I fought every day to make sure every Floridian had the opportunity to live their version of the American Dream. This bill will build on that work and continue to expand economic opportunity for Florida families.”

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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