Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Solar energy amendment headed for primary, but will anyone vote?

TALLAHASSEE — Everyone who votes in the Aug. 30 primary can vote on an amendment to the Florida Constitution dealing with solar energy.

Amendment 4 would give commercial property owners a tax break for 20 years on renewable energy devices, such as solar panels, similar to a tax break that's available to residential property owners.

Supporters can be found across the political spectrum, including the Florida AFL-CIO, Florida Retail Federation, League of Women Voters, Sierra Club, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association and Florida Wildlife Federation.

A statewide group pushing for passage of the amendment is Floridians for Solar Choice, at flsolarchoice.org. Jason Hoyt, a conservative radio host and blogger from Central Florida, announced earlier this month that he was creating a political action committee to oppose the amendment.

"Support the free market and tell Tallahassee to #StopPlayingFavorites by voting NO on Amendment 4," Hoyt tweeted Aug. 4.

Backers of the amendment say it is a blessing that turnouts in statewide primaries are traditionally low, ranging from 18 percent to 22 percent in recent election cycles.

"It's a little bit easier in August because it's a more informed electorate," said Susan Glickman of Belleair Beach, a leading supporter.

Glickman, a Tallahassee lobbyist and Florida director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, is criss-crossing the state, giving pep talks to voters on why it's important to vote "Yes on 4."

Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg and Democratic Rep. Lori Berman of Lantana are among the legislators who sponsored bills to place the solar question on the ballot, reflecting its bipartisan support.

A Brandes-backed advocacy group, Florida for Solar, reported that it raised $40,000 through July.

Most of the money came from a California group, Vote Solar. The Solar Energy Industries Association gave $10,000.

Despite Glickman's assertion that low turnout is good, some have complained Amendment 4 is doomed to fail because few will bother to vote in the primary.

The state Legislature decided to put the measure on the primary ballot, which was made in response to concerns by the utility industry, which has significant political influence in the state Capitol.

The industry wanted to avoid voter confusion between Amendment 4 and a pro-industry ballot proposal, Amendment 1, which will be on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Environmentalists, who are trying to defeat Amendment 1, are trying to clear up potential confusion, too.

"People ask me all the time, 'Is this the good ballot initiative or the bad ballot initiative?' " Glickman said in a talk to a group of North Florida Democrats in Tallahassee.

Three other amendments, numbered 2, 3 and 5, will also be on the November ballot.

Contact Steve Bousquet at bousquet@tampabay.com and follow him @stevebousquet.

Solar energy amendment headed for primary, but will anyone vote? 08/18/16 [Last modified: Thursday, August 18, 2016 11:14am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays waste repeated opportunities in 5-3 loss to Blue Jays

    The Heater

    TORONTO — Rays manager Kevin Cash made a case for urgency before Thursday's game, in both actions and words, making significant changes to the structure of the lineup and sincere comments about time running short.

    Trevor Plouffe of the Rays reacts as he pops out with the bases loaded in the sixth inning. [Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images]
  2. Spanish PM voices solidarity with Barcelona

    World

    BARCELONA, Spain — Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says his country is mourning in solidarity with the city of Barcelona and other cities in Europe that have been hit by deadly extremist attacks.

    An injured person is treated in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 after a white van jumped the sidewalk in the historic Las Ramblas district, crashing into a summer crowd of residents and tourists and injuring several people, police said. [Associated Press]
  3. Confederate statue: Why Bucs, Lightning, Rays took a stand

    Bucs

    They didn't want another Charlottesville.

    Marc Rodriguez, a member of the "Florida Fight for $15" organization, stands in protest along with other activists demanding the Confederate  monument be removed from the old Hillsborough County Courthouse in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  4. Rep. Larry Ahern gets roughed up by Clearwater City Council

    State Roundup

    It seemed innocuous enough: an "end of session report" from state Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole, to the Clearwater City Council.

    Then Ahern got taken to the woodshed.

    Rep. Larry Ahern is vying for a seat on the Pinellas commission.
  5. Hillsborough County erects wooden barrier to protect Confederate monument from vandalism

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Hillsborough County workers began constructing a wooden barrier around the base of the Confederate monument by the old county courthouse Thursday evening.

    A Hillsborough County construction crew erects a wooden barrier around the Confederate monument at the old county courthouse Thursday, out of concern about potential vandalism. [Courtesy of WTSP]