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Inside baseball over the Marlins stadium could affect two S. Fla. political races

At the epicenter of this week’s latest political moves in South Florida: Parking garages at the new Miami Marlins stadium, and the taxes that may or may not be due on them.

Earlier this month, Rep. Jose Diaz, R-Miami, filed a bill amendment that would exempt Miami from paying property taxes on the Marlins parking garages. Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, R-Miami, is backing the stadium amendment, and he might be tied into this politically as well. Read on. 

Diaz’s likely political opponent in a newly drawn district, Rep. Ana Rivas Logan, R-Miami, has filed an amendment that would delete the stadium language from the bill.

Logan and Diaz are headed for what could be a political crash course to represent the newly-drawn district that includes both Republicans’ turf. Logan said her move to scratch-out Diaz’s amendment was not politically motivated. The bill heads to the floor Tuesday for a hearing.

“I would’ve filed this amendment regardless of the political ramifications,” she said.

Another political race where the stadium issue might come up: Miami-Dade Property Appraiser.

New talk in political circles hinted that Lopez-Cantera might run for Miami-Dade property appraiser, a position currently held by Pedro Garcia. It was Garcia who alerted the city of Miami last year that it may have to pay as much as $2 million in taxes for the parking garages.

Lopez-Cantera would not confirm or deny the rumor about a run for property appraiser.

“I’m focused on my job as chairman of the [Miami-Dade] delegation, and Representative of District 113,” said Lopez-Cantera, who also holds a powerful position as Majority Leader and is term-limited. “It is premature to discuss what I’ll be doing after that.”

The bill, if it passes, would potentially force Garcia to decide whether to sue the city of Miami—and by extension, the taxpayers—for the taxes, a politically dangerous move in an election year.

Lopez-Cantera said he’s pushing the tax exemption not for political reasons, but to save Miami taxpayers in his district from paying taxes on a poorly-written contract with the Marlins.

Logan says she thinks the bill lets the Marlins off the proverbial hook, too easily. She wants Miami to sue the Marlins over the contract, and get the tax money from the ballteam that way.

“The city of Miami should sue the Marlins and go after them for that money,” she said. “Why are we looking for the easy way out?”

While House analysts have pointed out that the exemption may be unconstitutional, there has been no debate about that part.

Logan said she had no plans to withdraw the amendment before Tuesday's vote, even if it means a showdown with Majority Leader Lopez-Cantera.

She said Diaz’s name is on the amendment, so he should be willing to stand by it.

“If Diaz filed the amendment, it’s his amendment,” she said. “We’re big boys and girls.”