Panel: Tax reform group must look at big picture

Published April 3, 2007

TALLAHASSEE - Florida's new Taxation and Budget Reform Commission should be structured for a broad look at the state's tax system rather than focusing on its current property tax woes, a committee recommended Monday.

Commission member and Tallahassee lawyer Martha Barnett said the commission has a broad charge and shouldn't structure its committees "just because it's a political issue of the moment." Barnett was also a member of a 1990 commission that looked at the same issues.

The commission's organizational committee recommended using essentially the same committee arrangement as the 1990 group: a broad-based Taxation and Budget Committee rather than a separate panel on property taxes.

The Legislature, which hits the halfway point of its 60-day session this week, may put one or more proposed state constitutional amendments on the ballot later this year to cut taxes and make them fairer.


Man gets 45-year term in sex case

BRADENTON - A Bradenton man was sentenced to 45 years in prison on Monday after pleading no contest to charges he repeatedly molested an 11-year-old girl.

Jason Chad Hicks held his head down as he told Circuit Judge Diana Moreland it was in his best interest to accept a plea deal offered by prosecutors.

Hicks was the live-in boyfriend of the girl's mother when the sexual assaults occurred from August 2005 to August 2006.

The girl did not immediately tell her mother because Hicks told her that if she told anyone, he would "get kicked out of the house, and if she did not tell anyone, he would buy her things. He never did," said Heather Doyle, the assistant state attorney who prosecuted the case.

Hicks admitted certain sexual acts and said he knew the girl "did not want to," according to a police report.

Originally charged with two counts of sexual battery on a child, Hicks agreed to the lesser charges to avoid a life prison sentence had he gone to trial and been convicted, Doyle said.

Times wires and the Bradenton Herald