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New homebuyer tax break gets sudden life

Proving the truism that nothing is dead until Sine die, legislation providing a large exemption for new homebuyers has been given sudden life in the Senate. The bill, SJR 532, was yanked from several committees and put on today's special order calendar.

The Senate plan would provide an additional homestead exemption worth 25 percent of just value, up to $100,000 of value. The proposal would also reduce a nonhomestead assessment cap to 5 percent from 10 percent -- a carrot to get the needed 60 percent voter approval in November 2010.

Last week, Sen. Evelyn Lynn said the bill was all but dead, after leaders said it was too costly. But Gov. Charlie Crist's office, Realtors and others worked hard to get it moving. The House has already passed the lower cap, but has not taken up the homebuyer exemption.

A "presumption of correctness" bill also got new life today in the Senate. Similar legislation, sponsored by Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera of Miami, passed the House 110-3 on Monday.