Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Approve Amendment 4

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Approve Amendment 4

Article excerpt

OUR VIEW

Floridians voting in the 2016 primaries have one proposed constitutional amendment to consider and, apropos to the Sunshine State, it focuses on solar energy.

Labeled as Amendment 4, the proposal would extend an existing tax incentive for installing solar equipment -- or other renewable- energy devices -- and create a new one.

In Florida, proposed constitutional amendments must be favored by at least 60 percent of voters in order to take effect. We understand that many Floridians might question the value of making energy policy through the state constitution. But, since the Florida Constitution strictly governs property taxes and exemptions, approval of this amendment is necessary grant a tax benefit to expand the state's alternative-energy policy.

The proposed amendment was placed on the ballot by a rare occurrence in the current political climate -- unanimous consent of the Florida House of Representatives and Senate. A wide range of environmental organizations supports Amendment 4. There is little, if any, organized opposition; groups whose members might be slightly affected, such as the Florida Association of Counties, have taken no position.

Amendment 4 is not to be confused with another energy-related initiative supported by, among others, the electric-power industry. The latter proposal will be on the general election ballot.

On the primary ballot, Amendment 4 is labeled: "SOLAR DEVICES OR RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCE DEVICES; EXEMPTION FROM CERTAIN TAXATION AND ASSESSMENT."

Its ballot summary reads: "Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to authorize the Legislature, by general law, to exempt from ad valorem taxation the assessed value of solar or renewable energy source devices subject to tangible personal property tax, and to authorize the Legislature, by general law, to prohibit consideration of such devices in assessing the value of real property for ad valorem taxation purposes. This amendment takes effect January 1, 2018, and expires on December 31, 2037. …

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