State legislature on Tuesday to tackle frozen funds for A/C rebate programNovember 14th, 2010 by TCPalm.com
Read related story: State can’t get hands on money for air-conditioning rebate program
By Jim Turner
Homeowners who this summer upgraded their air conditioning units under the belief they would receive a $1,500 refund might be closer to getting some relief next week.
In addition to plans to override eight gubernatorial vetoes in a special session next Tuesday, state legislators are expected to designate $31 million in federal money for previously frozen solar energy and air conditioning rebate programs.
“I think it’s definitely going to make it,” Senate President-elect Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, said of the air conditioning rebate program.
“It was promoted that people who purchased these item would get a tax rebate.”
Haridopolos, whose district includes portions of Indian River and St. Lucie counties, said while he is opposed to the federal stimulus, “when it comes to consumers, let alone Floridians, that have purchased something with the understanding that there would be some type of credit, they should get that.”
If approved in the special session, $2.5 million would go to the HVAC (Heating, Ventilating, Air Conditioning) Rebate Program, covering applications submitted by Nov. 30 on air conditioning systems purchased or contracted for between Aug. 30 and Sept. 14.
The remainder of the $31 million would go to the more overwhelmed solar panel program.
Barbara Vilips of Stuart, who has been pleased to see a $20 drop in her monthly electric bill since replacing her 14-year-old air conditioning unit this summer, said she hopes the Legislature approves the rebate program.
“I’m a widow and I would hope that it would pass,” said Vilips, who spent $5,142 on the new system. “This is one that impacts people who went on good faith to purchase a new air conditioner.”
Vilips has been busy writing legislators to make sure her application remains active.
About 2,000 applications have been submitted for the rebate that is worth up to $1,500.
Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, and Rep. William Snyder, R-Stuart, also are optimistic the rebate program will get the full legislative backing.
“It’s money that was there. It was allocated by the Legislature for a specific purpose and the governor tried to use it for a different purpose,” Snyder said. “It was designated for capital outlay and the governor said he was going to use it for that rebate. It was a technical issue and it looks like we should be able to solve it.”
Part of the money was leftover from an earlier clunker appliances rebate program, and members of a special legislative commission argued they couldn’t approve Crist’s request to use it for the air conditioner rebate program without the vote of the full Legislature.
Many individuals, hearing that the state had received the money for the federal air-conditioning “cash for clunker” style rebate program, purchased the higher-efficiency system.
In addition to the rebate, homeowners could seek federal tax credits and rebates from their local power company.
House Speaker Dean Cannon and Haridopolos made the focus of the special session mostly non-controversial matters that could easily be tackled with the Republican’s new veto-proof majority.
Haridopolos anticipates quick action on each item brought up Tuesday.
Special session plans
Restore $9.7 million to Shands Teaching hospital.
Veto override HB 569: Repeal the requirement that local governments can’t require homeowners to separate yard trash and regular waste.
Veto override HB 981A: Allow property owners whose land is classified with an agricultural exemption to continue the exemption after the property is sold.
Veto override HB 1385: Allow more flexibility in implementing the petroleum cleanup law.
Veto override HB 545: Repeal requirement that homes in hurricane-prone areas be given a “wind resistance” rating when their home is sold.
Veto override HB 1516: Create a database of state-owned lands at the Department of Environmental Protection.
Veto override HB 1565: Tighten legislative control over agency rule making.
Veto override HB 5603: Change workers compensation laws by changing return-to-work policies in state law.
Posted November 12, 2010 at 6:28 a.m., updated November 13, 2010 at 6:05 p.m.