House approves property tax exemptions for spouses of slain, disabled federal agents
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 2/10/23-Rep. Marie Paule Woodson, D-Hollywood, debates against the migrant relocation bill, Friday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

‘Let’s be there for our law enforcement officers, like they have always been there for us.’

Florida law provides property tax exemptions for the spouses of first responders killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty.

The break does not apply to those employed by the federal government for now, but a bill that just cleared the House would change that.

On Wednesday, Representatives voted 112-0 for HB 101, which would expand the state’s definition of “first responders” to include federal agents.

Hollywood Democratic Rep. Marie Woodson, the measure’s sponsor, called it a much-needed update that will bring compassionate relief to the families of those who sacrificed for Florida’s benefit, regardless of which government level employed them.

“Our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line for us, and it doesn’t matter whether they are local, state or federal officers; they need to have the same benefits,” she said. “Let’s be there for our law enforcement officers like they have always been there for us.”

Woodson credited former state Representative and current Broward County Property Appraiser Marty Kiar for helping her to craft her bill, to which Boca Raton Democratic Sen. Tina Polksy is carrying an identical companion (SB 184).

“If you don’t know Marty, I recommend you meet him. You will not regret it,” she said.

In a January interview with Florida Politics, Kiar cited an incident in 2021, when a Sunrise man suspected of child pornography named David Lee Huber ambushed and shot five FBI agents, killing two, before turning the gun on himself.

When Kiar extended property tax exemptions to the survivors of the two agents, Daniel Alfin and Laura Schwartzenberger, he found out the law did not automatically allow them to receive the break because they were employees of the U.S. government, not a state or local agency. While their families did receive the exemption, Kiar knew something had to be done and approached Woodson to make the change.

Voters in 2016 overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment expanding property tax exemptions to first responders permanently disabled on the job. State law already exempted widows and widowers.

Kiar said Woodson’s bill is in keeping with the intent of that amendment.

“If you are a state first responder or a federal first responder and you were living here in Florida and homesteaded at the time of your injury,” he said, “you both deserve the same benefits.”

HB 101 is now being sent to the Senate for consideration. SB 184 has one more committee stop before reaching the Senate floor.

The change the bills propose is also included in larger taxation bills (SB 7062, HB 7063) nearing final votes in their respective chambers.

If approved, the change would be effective Jan. 1, 2024.


Anne Geggis of Florida Politics contributed to this report.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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