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This is just the first step but nevertheless a step in the right direction.

 

House speaker slips Marlins subsidy in tax bill

 

By S.V. Date, Palm Beach Post Capital Bureau

Thursday, April 15, 2004

 

 

 

TALLAHASSEE -- House Speaker Johnnie Byrd has quietly slipped a $60 million subsidy for the Florida Marlins into a broader tax bill scheduled to get its first hearing today.

 

The $2-million-a-year payment does not mention the Marlins by name, but the only team eligible under the bill would be one that plays in a stadium used by two professional sports teams, and which in previous years had received another subsidy for that stadium.

 

There's only one team and stadium in the state that fit that description: the Marlins and Pro Player Stadium.

 

The bill specifies that the existing subsidy would be deemed as going to the team remaining in a stadium -- the Miami Dolphins football team, in this case -- while the new subsidy for the new, yet-to-be-built stadium would go to the departing team -- the Marlins.

 

The bill is scheduled to be heard this afternoon in the House's Finance and Taxation Committee meeting. It is included in a proposed bill, sponsored by the committee, for technical changes requested by the Department of Revenue.

 

Byrd, R-Plant City, and his allies have been angry with the committee's chairman, Rep. Randy Johnson, R-Celebration, since he voted this session against Byrd's efforts to repeal the phone rate increases that Byrd pushed last year but is now opposing.

 

Legislative sources said Johnson did not support the Marlins subsidy but was told to insert it in the bill by Byrd, who wants the support of South Florida baseball fans now that he is running for the U.S. Senate.

 

Johnson would not discuss how or why the Marlins language was inserted in the bill.

 

"It is what it is," he said.

 

Byrd spokesman Tom Denham said the Marlins portion of the bill was requested by the "South Florida delegation," but that Byrd himself is still studying the issue.

 

"He hasn't made his final decision yet," Denham said.

 

Former Marlins owner H. Wayne Huizenga got the first such sports stadium subsidy in 1993 for the Marlins team that he then owned.

 

Lawmakers agreed to give him as much as $2 million a year for 30 years to retrofit his Dolphins' football stadium for baseball.

 

When the Department of Revenue found that the conversion had cost no more than $10 million and tried to restrict payments, lawmakers changed the law to let Huizenga get the full $60 million over 30 years regardless.

 

Six other sports teams have since received the $2 million-a-year subsidy, including -- because of another change in the law -- franchises that were already in Florida but wanted new stadiums.

 

Huizenga also tried to get $2 million a year for his Dolphins in 1997 -- after getting the same subsidy for the Marlins at that same stadium four years earlier -- but the plan was defeated in the newly Republican-controlled House of Representatives on a floor vote.

 

The Marlins now complain that because of a bad lease previous owner John Henry signed, the money from their subsidy goes to Huizenga, who continues to own Pro Player.

 

Senate President Jim King on Wednesday repeated his opposition to a new subsidy for the Marlins.

 

Gov. Jeb Bush, who four years ago threatened to veto a Marlins subsidy because it would come from a tax on cruise ship passengers, has said this year that a second Marlins subsidy would be a matter of fairness -- because the original subsidy could be thought of as benefiting the Dolphins.

 

The Marlins, now owned by Jeffrey Loria, are looking for the $60 million, 30-year subsidy as part of a package for a new, $325 million domed stadium.

 

Team officials have said they may leave South Florida if they do not get public help for a new park.

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Getting closer and closer.

 

Although I'm afraid this might not turn out well. Everything that has been made public has blown up in the faces of Marlins' management.

 

Why can't the state just treat the Marlins just like every other pro sports franchise? Why can't the county treat the Marlins just like the Dolphins? Why can't the city treat the Marlins just like a certain private university that hasn't paid for use of the Orange Bowl in years?

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Byrd hasn't said he's supporting this himself, just that he got it put in the bill. It sounds like politics to help his US Senate run and may not do much to actually help the Marlins.

 

Besides, this is just the state House. Even if it passes, doesn't it still have to make it through the state Senate, where the Senate president is vehemently opposed?

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It was a great surprise to see this in the paper this morning. It is encouraging, but we must realize this is just a first step....with many hurdles yet to cross.

 

One positive aspect is this legislation comes up for approval before the end of this session. This may be our only chance for this session.

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H.Wayne is about to screw the Marlins :mad :

Uh oh! C'mon Ed...don't hold out on us.

 

HWayne is the devil...how is it that he actually has people in this town (Fat Hank) believing he wants the Marlins out of PPS. Where is the logic?

 

I hope the Dolphins lose every freakin' game next season...

 

 

:thumbdown

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Don't get too excited, this is really non-news. We still have to go through the senate, which probably won't happen. Sorry to be so pessimistic, but don't think that if it passes the house, we win; King still doesn't want it to happen, so unless that changes, we're still screwed.

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Guest Juanky

Well, what is the main bill about? This is called a rider if he is doing what I think he is, just attaching the "Marlins clause" into a bill that is likely to pass but has to do with something else. If he can get it through the legislature without it being thrown out, Bush would have to sign it if he likes the bill. Not that this matters, since Jeb is in favor of us getting money for the stadium, but smart nonetheless. Maybe we can sneak this by King if he decides not to read the whole bill.

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Well, what is the main bill about? This is called a rider if he is doing what I think he is, just attaching the "Marlins clause" into a bill that is likely to pass but has to do with something else. If he can get it through the legislature without it being thrown out, Bush would have to sign it if he likes the bill. Not that this matters, since Jeb is in favor of us getting money for the stadium, but smart nonetheless. Maybe we can sneak this by King if he decides not to read the whole bill.

This is just a House bill. King is in the Senate. It has to get through both. And trust me, he'll read it. He has a bunch of aides to handle this kind of thing.

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Don't get too excited, this is really non-news. We still have to go through the senate, which probably won't happen. Sorry to be so pessimistic, but don't think that if it passes the house, we win; King still doesn't want it to happen, so unless that changes, we're still screwed.

Tswift, this is attached to another bill. So if King wants to stop it, doesnt he have to stop the entire bill? The question then becomes how badly does King want to stop the Marlins from getting this. You gotta figure there are bigger issues than this and since its already on there, why would King complicate the process? Even though I grew up in Florida, I havent followed the state political system much. How can King stop this even if he wanted to without stopping the house bill itself?

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Former Marlins owner H. Wayne Huizenga got the first such sports stadium subsidy in 1993 for the Marlins team that he then owned.

 

Lawmakers agreed to give him as much as $2 million a year for 30 years to retrofit his Dolphins' football stadium for baseball.

 

When the Department of Revenue found that the conversion had cost no more than $10 million and tried to restrict payments, lawmakers changed the law to let Huizenga get the full $60 million over 30 years regardless.

 

greedy jackass. hope you enjoyed the extra $50 million to wipe your asss with.

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Don't get too excited, this is really non-news. We still have to go through the senate, which probably won't happen. Sorry to be so pessimistic, but don't think that if it passes the house, we win; King still doesn't want it to happen, so unless that changes, we're still screwed.

Tswift, this is attached to another bill. So if King wants to stop it, doesnt he have to stop the entire bill? The question then becomes how badly does King want to stop the Marlins from getting this. You gotta figure there are bigger issues than this and since its already on there, why would King complicate the process? Even though I grew up in Florida, I havent followed the state political system much. How can King stop this even if he wanted to without stopping the house bill itself? This is the state house, not the state senate. The state senate has different procedures, and they could "table" this bill if they didn't want to vote it down. There are a lot of ways to present it, and even more ways to shoot it down or delay it further...

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