Vote-By-Mail ballots are out! I know this because three friends emailed yesterday to ask about the two ballot choices I haven’t written about yet: U.S. Senate and Amendment 4. In this post, I’ll write about Amendment 4. In another, I’ll write about the Democratic, Republican and Libertarian primary candidates for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Marco Rubio. Stay tuned.
Amendment 4 – Solar Devices or Renewable Energy Source Devices; Exemption from Certain Taxation and Assessment was proposed by the Florida Legislature. It passed the House and Senate unanimously in the most recent session. If approved by 60 percent of the voters, it will take effect on January 1, 2018, and expire on December 31, 2037.
Amendment 4 would exempt solar panels and other renewable energy equipment from both Florida’s real property tax and its tangible personal property tax – currently significant barriers to installing solar in Florida. Floridians for Solar Choice, a grass-roots group that supports the amendment, says the effect would be to lower the cost of solar, increase clean energy jobs, and greatly expand solar development across the state.
The League of Women Voters of Florida (LWVF), a nonpartisan political organization, is a supporting member of Floridians for Solar Choice. LWVF President Pamela Goodman and Deirdre Macnab, Chair – Natural Resources/Solar, explained in a Guest Commentary in the Pensacola NewsJournal:
A remarkable battle is shaping up in Florida. On the one side is the utilities who have raised over $16 million to protect their monopoly fiefdom, and on the other a ragtag army of a vast array of citizen groups ranging from the Tea Party, Christian Coalition, League of Women Voters, and the Sierra Club.
What has drawn these civic groups together? A desire to help Floridians lower energy bills and create a free market for clean renewable energy power.
The LWVF is spearheading a Solar Smart Policy Campaign to educate voters about Amendment 4 as well as another amendment, Amendment 1 – Rights of Electricity Consumers Regarding Solar Energy Choice, that will be on the ballot in November. Amendment 1 is an industry-sponsored amendment opposed by Floridians for Solar Choice.
NOTE: An earlier version of this post erroneously said that Amendment 4 was placed on the ballot using the citizens’ petition process sponsored by Floridians for Solar Choice. The Floridians for Solar Choice amendment, with the ballot title “Limits or Prevents Barriers to Local Solar Electricity Supply,” failed to gain the required number of signatures to make it on the 2016 ballot. The sponsors hope to do so for 2018.