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Renewable-energy tax break bill headed to Rick Scott

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The Florida Legislature has passed a bill that will give a renewable-energy tax break to commercial and industrial properties with solar installations. The measure (SB 90) was sent to Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday after passing the Senate unanimously. If signed into law, businesses that install solar panels to their properties would not have to pay additional property taxes from the increased value of adding such devices. “The voters of Florida spoke loud and clear in support of an expanded…

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It’s the end of the road for the Hillsborough Public Transportation Commission

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Legislation that would effectively kill the controversial Hillsborough Public Transportation Commission (HB 647) passed in the Florida House on Thursday. The bill, sponsored by Tampa Bay Republican Jamie Grant, was first introduced as a local bill at the Hillsborough County Legislative Delegation meeting last December. Although the PTC has reaped a slew of negative news stories over the past three years in its attempts to regulate ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft in Hillsborough County, widespread antipathy to the organization goes back years, if…

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TBARTA bill passes unanimously — now goes to Rick Scott for signature

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

By a vote of 117-0, the Florida House passed a bill to revamp the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority (TBARTA). With the Senate approving the bill last week, it now goes to Gov. Rick Scott‘s desk. Although Plant City Republican Dan Raulerson sponsored it in the House, that chamber actually substituted his bill with the Senate version, sponsored by Clearwater Republican Jack Latvala (SB 1672). The legislation would downsize TBARTA from seven counties to five (Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Manatee and Hernando), and it would change TBARTA’s focus to…

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TBARTA bill one step closer to going to Rick Scott’s desk

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Legislation to revamp the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority (TBARTA) by reducing its footprint passed Tuesday a second reading on the Florida House floor. One more vote in the House, and the bill goes to Gov. Rick Scott’s desk. Sponsored in the House by Plant City Republican Dan Raulerson, HB 1243 would downsize TBARTA from seven counties to five (Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Manatee and Hernando), and change the TBARTA’s focus to transit (and not simply transportation). Two weeks ago, an amendment filed by Tampa Bay area Republicans Tom Lee and Jeff Brandes made…

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HART board members insist autonomous technology won’t cost bus operators their jobs

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A week ago, officials with the Hillsborough County Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) held a news conference unveiling four Tesla Model X electric SUV vehicles that became part of the agency’s HyperLink first-mile, last-mile service in the USF area. Advocates of autonomous technology say it will ultimately make America’s streets safer. But there is also a human factor involved. “Ninety percent of accident deaths are caused by human error. If you remove the human element, it can save lives,” St. Petersburg state Senator Jeff…

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House considers contentious Tampa International Airport audit

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Budget language filed in the Florida House Saturday morning would OK a controversial state audit of Tampa International Airport. As reported by Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida, Brandon Republican Sen. Tom Lee unexpectedly filed an amendment last week on the Senate floor, which proposes an audit of TIA’s renovation master plan. Lee’s amendment raised concern with two other Tampa Bay-area Senate Republicans — appropriations chair Jack Latvala of Clearwater and Dana Young of Tampa. The Senate rejected the amendment. Pensacola…

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Top line tourism, economic development money closed out, chair says

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Don’t expect any movement in the budgets for Enterprise Florida and VISIT FLORIDA at the conference committee level. “I’m authorized to negotiate quite a few things in this budget and there’s a few things I’m not, and those would be among the things I’m not,” said Sen. Jeff Brandes, the St. Petersburg Republican chairing the Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development Appropriations conference committee. The panel met again at 8 a.m. Saturday. Earlier this week, legislative leadership agreed on roughly $83 billion…

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