Proposed repeal of stadium funding law hung up in Florida Senate


A proposal to discard an unused pool of state sales tax dollars that could be used to build and upgrade professional sports stadiums was put in limbo Monday just before it was scheduled to go before a Senate committee.

The Commerce and Tourism Committee took a procedural step that tabled the proposal (SB 236), as sponsor Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, remained in his fourth-floor Senate office when the bill’s number was called.

Lee said he was informed in a “private conversation” prior to the meeting that his proposal wasn’t going to be moved. But Lee wouldn’t call his proposal dead for the legislative session.

RELATED: More Florida Legislature coverage

The bill seeks to repeal a controversial 2014 sports development program.

“I know I had the votes to pass it, because I talked to the members ahead of time,” Lee said. “The president approves those agendas. And somewhere between the agenda coming out and today something changed.”

A spokeswoman for Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said she was unaware any change had been made regarding Lee’s proposal.

The stadium funding program, which was sponsored by Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott makes available $13 million a year for stadium work.

Latvala, who serves on the Commerce and Tourism Committee and is the powerful chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, declined after Monday’s meeting to discuss what might have been said in behind-the-scenes talks with any other senator.

Even if Lee is unsuccessful in repealing the program, it appears highly unlikely that stadium projects will get state funding this year. House leaders have been vehemently opposed to dipping into the funding pool for projects that make it through a review by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

The money, which comes from sales taxes, has been unsuccessfully sought in the past for improvements at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Daytona International Speedway, Hard Rock Stadium in Miami-Dade County and construction of a soccer stadium in Orlando.

Lee noted that the owners of each of those facilities completed the work without the state’s contribution.

“This piece of (2014) legislation was nothing but found money for those organizations,” Lee said.

For the current year, House leaders have already rejected the lone request for state money from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

When Lee filed the legislation, House Speaker Richard Corcoran quickly announced his support for the repeal.

“Florida has the tax environment, the weather, and the fans to support multiple sports franchises without raiding taxpayer pockets,” Corcoran said at the time. “Those who own the game should not be able to take money from those who don’t attend the game.”

Corcoran, who was among 27 House members voting against the 2014 law, oversaw House votes last week to abolish the state’s economic-business recruitment agency Enterprise Florida (HB 7005) and to revamp the tourism-marketing agency Visit Florida (HB 9).



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Politics

White Out: Downtown park turns white for outdoor charity dinner party
White Out: Downtown park turns white for outdoor charity dinner party

The green grass of the Meyer Amphitheater was covered in white Saturday night when more than 500 people converged for the annual Dreyofoos in White charity dinner. All of the guests wore white outfits and hosted their own al fresco dinners, sitting at tables elaborately decorated with different themes — from New York City’s Central Park...
GL Homes mounts email campaign for its Ag Reserve development plan
GL Homes mounts email campaign for its Ag Reserve development plan

Palm Beach County commissioners are getting an earful — actually, an email in-box full — from backers of a controversial GL Homes development plan. The developer has asked county residents to let county commissioners know they support the builder’s plan to preserve 4,900 acres in The Acreage/Loxahatchee area in exchange for a rule...
Planning commissioner quits, citing GL Homes plan, other development
Planning commissioner quits, citing GL Homes plan, other development

A member of the Palm Beach County Planning Commission has resigned, citing frustration with large-scale development projects that have been recommended by the commission. Domenic R. Guarnagia’s resignation comes two months before the Planning Commission takes up a controversial development proposal from GL Homes, which wants the county to change...
Kelly, whose son died in combat, defends president’s call to Gold Star widow
Kelly, whose son died in combat, defends president’s call to Gold Star widow

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly unequivocally defended President Donald Trump's calls to the families of four fallen soldiers, on Thursday using his credibility as a retired general who lost a son on the battlefield to try to help his boss contain a public relations crisis.  In an extraordinary, emotional appearance in the White House briefing...
Senate approves budget in crucial step forward for Republican tax cuts
Senate approves budget in crucial step forward for Republican tax cuts

The Senate approved the Republican-backed budget Thursday night, a major step forward for the GOP effort to enact tax cuts.  The budget's passage will allow the GOP to use a procedural maneuver to pass tax legislation through the Senate with 50 or more votes, removing the need for support from Democratic senators.  "Tonight, we completed...
More Stories