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    Proposal clarifies taxation of ports


    © St. Petersburg Times, published April 7, 2001

    TALLAHASSEE -- As local governments continue to sort through the rubble of Thursday's Supreme Court ruling on taxing stadiums and arenas, lawmakers here are working to spare airports and seaports the same confusion.

    A proposed constitutional amendment that would clarify when an airport or seaport is tax exempt is traveling through the House and Senate.

    The House version, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Maygarden, R-Pensacola, has one more committee to pass before heading to the House floor. The Senate companion, sponsored by Sen. Jim Horne, R-Orange Park, also has one more stop before heading to its chamber.

    Maygarden said he wanted to leave no doubt that the sections of airports and seaports that truly are used for a public purpose are tax-exempt.

    But that doesn't mean that private businesses based at an airport or seaport get a free ride.

    "In other words, if someone has a hotel on the airport, that is taxable," Maygarden said.

    The bill and its Senate companion would exempt from taxation property owned by a municipality or special district and "used for the purposes of transportation of passengers or cargo at airports or deepwater seaports."

    Despite the timing, Maygarden said his bill is not related to this week's Supreme Court ruling. Maygarden said his measure passed the House last year, but the Senate failed to consider it in time.

    If voters approve the amendment, it will take effect Jan. 1, 2003.

    Horne, the Senate sponsor, couldn't be reached Friday.

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