Gov. Rick Scott signed four more bills into law Wednesday and vetoed three others.
Scott vetoed a tax bill that included an amendment he opposed dealing with a dispute in Key West between a private landowner and the Monroe County property appraiser. The bill (SB 354) was aimed at saving millions of dollars for Southeast Housing, a British company, by declaring certain military property exempt from property taxes retroactive to 2007.
Monroe County slapped Southeast Housing with an $11 million bill for overdue property taxes last year after discovering that the company was renting some of its tax exempt military housing to civilians. Southeast acquired nearly 900 Key West housing units from the Navy in 2007.
Scott said the bill also could have imposed taxes on some housing on military installations that is now tax exempt. "This will hurt Florida's military installations," Scott said in a veto message.
Scott also vetoed bills that would relax the record-keeping requirements for child abuse death review panels that meet in private, as well as a bill that would have shortened from five years to three years the time frame in which a judge would have to decide whether a defendant was mentally competent to stand trial.
Scott said the bill (SB 1420), sponsored by Sen. Eleanor Sobel, a Hollywood Democrat, "could pose a serious public safety risk." It passed both houses of the Legislature unanimously.
Scott attached to his veto message a supportive statement from State Attorney Bill Eddins of Pensacola, president of a statewide prosecutors' association, who said Scott "did the right thing" in vetoing it.
The bills Scott signed dealt with alcoholic beverages, timeshares, insurance policies on mobile homes and changes to highway safety laws. Craft distillers can sell two bottles of products to each customer and changes to the timeshare law are designed to speed up the foreclosure process.
Scott's office got dozens of calls of opposition from motorists to the highway bill (HB 7125) because it will shift some traffic violation cases from the courts to administrative hearing officers. The bill also creates five new specialty license tags and provides a 60-day period in which a motorist ticketed for a red light camera violation can pay the fine, identify another driver who was in control or seek a hearing.
-- Steve Bousquet