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The tax legislators passed this week -- a squeeze on orange growers

Fresh off promising that the Florida legislature won't raise a dime in taxes, lawmakers on Tuesday enacted a law that allows citrus growers to triple the one-cent per box tax on oranges and grapefruits to pay for disease research.

The measure, tucked into HB 981, an agriculture bill overridden on Tuesday, won't raise much money in revenue terms -- between $3.5 million to $4.5 million a year. It's a tax the industry asked to have imposed on itself, so that it can use the proceeds to fight the citrus greening disease and, growers say, they'll likely eat the cost.

But for tea party activists who trooped up to the Capitol Tuesday to remind legislators that they are watching, the measure doesn't pass the purity test. To them, it is proof that lawmakers have difficulty matching rhetoric with reality.

``This isn't what they told us about this bill,'' said Everett Wilkinson, head of the South Florida tea party group who came to the Capitol. ``It's obvious they have a hard time following through on their word.'' More here.

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