Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Business

Dolphins stadium bill dodges unfriendly amendments, passes House committee

TALLAHASSEE — The Miami Dolphins' push for a taxpayer-supported stadium renovations gained steam in the Florida Legislature on Friday, sidestepping a number of toxic amendments aimed at killing the bill.

The Dolphins, who are asking for as much as $200 million in taxpayer support for the stadium overhaul, shepherded their proposal through its first committee stop in the Florida House, where it passed by a 12-4 vote.

The battery of rogue amendments included a proposal from Rep. Carlos Trujillo, a Miami Republican, to have Broward County help foot the bill for proposed improvements to Sun Life Stadium. The bill as originally drafted would require only Miami-Dade County to raise its mainland hotel tax.

Trujillo said Broward had amassed $58 million in revenue in 2010 when the Super Bowl was held in South Florida, while Miami-Dade had collected $40 million.

"I think it is fair that if some people are going to receive the majority of the benefit, they should at least pay half the tax," Trujillo said.

Broward officials thought otherwise.

"An amendment that would require tourism-development tax dollars in Broward to go to a project outside of the county is something we would traditionally oppose," Broward legislative coordinator Nick Matthews said, being careful to note that the delegation had not taken a position on the bill itself.

The House subcommittee on finance and tax agreed and killed the amendment.

The subcommittee also rejected an amendment from Rep. Michael Bileca, a Miami Republican, that would have required Dolphins owner Stephen Ross to return a share of the tax dollars if he were to sell a majority stake of the team.

The bill did, however, pick up one tweak aimed at improving its chances of passing. That amendment follows the path of the Senate bill, which was changed this week to require Miami-Dade voters to approve the financing plan in a referendum vote.

"Having a referendum on this and letting the voters decide is a good thing," Gonzalez said. "If it doesn't pass, then it's the will of the voters, and I'm good with that."

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