Tax collectors could issue concealed weapons permit under new bill

Tax collectors could soon accept applications for concealed weapons or firearms.

State Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, and State Rep. James Grant, R-Tampa, have passed legislation that would allow county tax collectors the ability to be appointed to accept such applications.

“Allowing tax collectors to assist applicants in their home counties is not only a convenience for citizens, it makes sense all around,” said Marion Hammer, executive director of Unified Sportsmen of Florida and a past NRA president, in a release.

H.B. 523 passed unanimously in the Senate, a bipartisan support for the bill that Simpson said “shows there is some common sense alive and well in Tallahassee.” However, it passed 94-22 in the House, mostly along party lines.

Right now, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has eight regional locations that accept the applications. The new bill, which now heads to Gov. Rick Scott, will allow Adam Putnam’s division to appoint county tax collectors to receive applications at the start of the permitting process, charging an additional convenience fee.

Those fees, according to staff analysis of the bill, is $22 in addition to the standard $70 initial application fee, or $12 in addition to the $60 renewal fee. However, tax collector offices will not be able to maintain any list of people who apply for or receive new or renewal licenses for concealed weapons.

The bill also earmarks more than $800,000 to implement the program from the Division of Licensing Trust Fund. This would allow 10 new offices to be established each year for the next three years, including more than $460,000 in additional salaries for those who would administer the program, and another $100,000 for equipment that doesn’t include electronic fingerprinting scanners.

Those scanners would run more than $17,000 each, and if purchased for every county, would cost $1.1 million.

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