The state Senate gave final approval Wednesday to placing a constitutional amendment on the 2012 general election ballot that would lower some property tax assessments.
On a busy day of moving bills as a Friday adjournment approaches, the Senate voted 25-12 – one vote more than the three-fifths required to pass a ballot measure – to provide the tax relief.
If approved in November 2012, buyers of non-homestead or commercial property would have their assessment increases capped at 3 percent per year instead of the current 10 percent, putting those owners in line with the benefit currently enjoyed by homesteaded owners.
It would also provide an additional homestead exemption from the standard $25,000 for first-time homebuyers equal to 50 percent of the median value in their home county. That additional exemption is gradually reduced annually until it expires within 5 years.
Also in the Legislature Wednesday:
• The Senate passed and sent back to the state House an immigration-reform bill that contains no provision to require employers to verify electronically that their workers are in the country legally. The measure appears doomed, with the House sponsor saying his chamber would not entertain watered-down legislation without the "E-Verify" provision.
• The House passed a major property insurance bill that limits the time to file a hurricane-related claim to three years, down from five years, and allows insurers to pay only part of a claim up front, rather than requiring payment all at once.
It maintains the requirement that insurers provide sinkhole coverage, contrary to the Senate bill making such coverage optional. The Senate sponsor, Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples, said he'll accept the House language when the bill returns to the Senate for passage.
• It became clear that lawmakers would fail to impose a 25 percent Citizens Property Insurance Corp. rate hike. The time ran out while it languished in a Senate committee.