For the second year in a row, the State of Florida declared a 12 day sales tax exemption on supplies and other merchandise used for hurricane preparation. The tax holiday started Sunday, and continues through June 1st, the start of hurricane season. Tax exempt items include: Flashlights and portable, self-powered light sources – $20 or less Portable radios, two-way radios and weather-band radios – for $50 or less Flexible waterproof sheeting (tarps) – $50 or less Gas or diesel fuel containers – $25 or less Batteries – $30 or less Non-electrical food storage coolers – $30 or less Portable generators – $1,000 or less Carbon monoxide detectors – $75 or less Storm shutter devices – $200 or less Cell phone batteries – $60 or less In addition to the 7.5% sales tax savings, Home Depot stores are offering an additional 7.5% discount and are also offering free hurricane preparation workshops. Whether shoppers are taking advantage seems to depend on how far inland they are. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Central Florida merchants say sales are sluggish, while the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports brisk sales in Broward County, which was hit hard by Wilma last year. In other hurricane season related news, state emergency officials are concerned that beefed up FEMA preparations will cause shortages and competition between state and federal agencies for supplies, and restructuring within FEMA is raising questions about who's in charge. Meanwhile, New Orleans and FEMA officials will be testing an updated evacuation plan over the next two days. According to the report, the test will consist of 80 people riding a bus to the convention center and train station and being tagged for tracking. Maybe it's just me, and maybe there's more to it, but this doesn't seem to inspire much confidence. UPDATE: Unbelievable.