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Dolphins bill now has amendment requiring referendum

When the so-called ‘Dolphins stadium’ bill goes before the Senate Finance & Tax committee on Wednesday, it will include an amendment allowing Miami-Dade voters to have the final say on whether or not taxpayers will chip in to renovate the Fins’ Miami Gardens Stadium.

An amendment, filed Tuesday, confirmed what bill sponsor Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens, told the Herald last month. According to the amendment, the Miami Dolphins would only be able to receive taxpayer assistance for the stadium renovation if taxpayers themselves vote to allow it.

The amendment allows the referendum to take place before the bill is enacted. That could potentially allow Miami-Dade to set a referendum vote for sometime this Spring, ahead of the National Football League’s decision of where Super Bowl 50 will take place. South Florida is being considered, and the Dolphins say a newly renovated stadium could help give the region a leg up.

The Dolphins are asking for the mainland hotel tax to increase from 6 percent to 7 percent, as well as up to $90 million in sales tax rebates, paid out over 30 years. The $3 million annual tax break would be in addition to $2 million in annual payments SunLife is already receiving. Altogether, taxpayer money would help fund about half of the costs for the $400 million renovation. Miami-Dade legislators opted against making the stadium bill one of their legislative priorities this year.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross initially opposed the referendum, saying there would not be time.

Ross traveled to Tallahassee yesterday, apparently at the request of Gov. Rick Scott for an event not related to the stadium bill.