Proposal tying local tax referendums to General Election ballots clears House, heads to Senate
Rough patch: Florida is considering adding more speed bumps in the vote-by-mail process.

Closeup of a mail ballot envelope
The goal is to get input when voter turnout is highest.

The House has passed a proposal requiring local tax referendums to be held in a General Election. 

The bill, (HB 777), sponsored by Manatee County Republican Rep. Will Robinson, was approved by the House Thursday in an 111-2 vote, with Reps. Fentrice Driskell and Mike Gottlieb dissenting.

The Senate vill (SB 1194), sponsored by Sen. Jim Boyd, is also headed to the Senate floor after receiving unanimous approval Thursday in the Senate Appropriations Committee.4

The legislation would require local governments to place local tax referendums on General Election ballots rather than Primary, local or Special Election ballots. The goal is to get input when voter turnout is highest.

The affected taxes include things like tourist development taxes, tourist impact taxes, children’s services independent special district taxes and school district millages, to name a few.

Boyd did add one amendment to the legislation Thursday that changed the effective date of the bill to Oct. 1 from July 1, an alteration made to align with the start of the local government fiscal year, Boyd said.

At its Senate Appropriations hearing, the bill garnered public support from several school districts across the state, including Monroe County Schools and Duval County Schools. The Florida Association of Counties waived in opposition, and a representative from the Small Counties Coalition, Chris Doolin, spoke against the bill, citing an unintended consequence of the measure. Doolin said the provision could significantly delay the time in which revenue could be collected.

“I just want to point out an unintended consequence that I think is very significant,” Doolin said. “By moving the millage referendum to the November ballot, you miss the trim notice, and it delays the if a referendum on a millage provision is approved.”

The bill builds on 2018 legislation from Rep. Nick DiCeglie that required all sales tax referendums to appear on a General Election ballot. In House discussion on the legislation, DiCeglie praised the new measure as “good public policy.”

“From a public policy standpoint, this just makes sense,” DiCeglie said. “It’s just good public policy. And obviously, I fully support this bill.”

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected].


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