Sun Life Stadium Renovation Bill Passes Senate, Looks Likely to Get House Vote
Hey, Miami-Dade voters: Looks like you'll have a chance after all to decide whether the Dolphins -- and their billionaire owner, Stephen Ross -- deserve tax dollars to help renovate Sun Life Stadium. With bills to approve a hike in bed taxes stalled in Tallahassee, the NFL flew out its big gun: Commissioner Roger Goodell. Whatever Goodell did -- gladhanding? Promising to get Tim Tebow out of football? Threatening everyone with photos of Terrell Suggs' gums? -- it worked.
The Senate passed the plan with just four nay votes last night; it now heads to the House, where Speaker Will Weatherford seems amenable to giving it a hearing on the floor.
If the House OKs the deal -- presumably after another round of Goodell's backroom magic -- the plan to give the Dolphins nearly $400 million in bed taxes and sales-tax subsidies would go to a public vote in Miami on May 14.
The bills looked to be faltering in Tallahassee before yesterday's about-face in the Senate. The Miami-Dade GOP came out against the plan, and the bills had stalled in both legislative bodies with a looming deadline. The session ends on Friday, so the package has to pass the House and Senate by then.
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Enter Goodell, who flew up to Tally with Ross yesterday and met privately with top lawmakers. (Note to self: Check luxury boxes at the next Florida-based Super Bowl for top lawmakers.)
By the end of the day, the Senate passed the deal -- which includes $13 million annually in tax breaks for pro sports franchises -- 35-4. Two Miami lawmakers were in the tiny minority: Rene Garcia and Anitere Flores, both Republicans.
Weatherford, the House speaker, has previously said he didn't like the plan and has helped keep it off the floor for a vote. But on Monday, he praised the latest version for creating a process to approve sports subsidies, the AP reports -- a hint that the bill will certainly get a vote before the Friday deadline.
Polls actually opened yesterday in Miami for the May 14 election, but so far turnout has been "abysmal to slim" the Herald reports -- presumably because most voters wanted to wait to see what Tally did before casting their ballots.
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