Today in Tallahassee: Tax breaks and School Reform top headlines

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida Senate is apologizing for decades of abuse at a reform school.

The Senate unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday containing the apology as several men who suffered abuse in the 1950s and 1960s watched from the public gallery.

Researchers have determined more than 90 boys died at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna between 1900 and 1973. The school was shut down in 2011.

A group called The White House Boys, named for the small building where guards took them to be beaten, have worked for years to get the state to acknowledge the abuse.

The House passed a similar apology last week.

Democratic Sen. Darryl Rouson said more than 500 former students have come forward to document beatings and sexual abuse at the school.

Florida House votes to deregulate barbers, hair braiders

TALLHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida House hopes to create more jobs by passing legislation that would deregulate 20 professions that include barbers, boxing timekeepers and architects.

Republican Rep. Halsey Beshears, who is sponsoring the bill (HB 7047), said Wednesday that lowering training and licensing requirement for certain occupations would spark a small business boon. The 86-30 vote in favor of the measure came after two lawmakers said inadequate training would endanger the health of Floridians.

The measure would reduce the state’s role in regulating businesses, which opponents argue could open workers in these industries to lawsuits.

A Senate companion has moved past two committee stops, and includes repealing criminal background checks for talent agents.

Florida voters may vote on new property tax break

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida homeowners may get an additional $25,000 homestead exemption if voters go along with the proposal.

The Florida House on Wednesday voted 81-35 to put a constitutional amendment on the 2018 ballot that would allow homeowners to shield an additional $25,000 of the value of their home from most property taxes. The additional exemption would not apply to taxes charged by school districts.

If sixty percent of voters say yes the amendment would take effect in 2019.

The proposed amendment is a priority for House Speaker Richard Corcoran. The proposal heads to the Florida Senate next.

A legislative analysis estimates the amendment would save homeowners nearly $753 million a year.

Currently homeowners in Florida have a homestead exemption that shields $50,000 of the value of their home from most property taxes.