In a closed, VIP only ceremony, Scott symbolically signed House Bill 95, which, if approved, will grant property tax exemptions to the spouses of first responders killed in the line of duty. Sunshine State News reports that the bill was officially signed in a similar ceremony the day before.
The signed legislation creates the Fallen Heroes Family Tax Relief Act, will correspond with HJB 93, a constitution amendment that would grant partial and full property tax exemption to both spouses of fallen soldiers and first responders. HB 95, introduced by Republican state representative Shawn Harrison, passed the Florida House of Representatives unanimously in February. HB 95 can be implemented if HJR93 is approved by %60 percent of voters .
The legislation would cover spouses of police officers, firefighters, correctional officers, EMTs and Paramedics who have died on the job. It's on the ballot for November as Amendment Nine, and if passed could lead to a $300,000 decline in school and non-school tax revenues per year.
After the signing ceremony, Scott told the audience of about 2000 people that it was important to recognize the work and sacrifice of law enforcement officials and agencies all throughout Florida through this legislation.
“For first responders, the most routine traffic or emergency call can turn into a dangerous situation” said Scott, adding that it has done so in the last 17 months. Tampa Bay has seen a handful of deadly police shootings over the last few months, the latest claiming the life of Lakeland Police officer Arnulfo Crispin in December 2011.
Scott also credited law enforcements officials across the state for the lowest crime rate in Florida in the last 41 years.
Thursday’s luncheon at the Convention Center, which was host by Sykes Enterprises, consisted mostly law enforcement officers and their families, primarily from Hillsborough but also from Pinellas, Pasco, and Lakeland counties. Variously law enforcement officers were recognized for distinguished service and acts of bravery. Joining Rick Scott as one of the guest speakers was Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
Among those honored was Lyonelle De Veaux, a Tampa Deputy that was shot 3 times in Sept 2011 while rescuing a woman from a domestic disturbance.
Scholarships from the Sykes foundation were also awarded to 8 High School Seniors who are children of law enforcement officers.