State Watch – February 2020
Included in this issue’s State Watch you will find the Grassroots Guide beginning on Page 46. The directory is your reference guide for influencing federal, state and local issues important to you.
Here, Land Line rounds up some recent actions at statehouses.
For a complete rundown of state legislation, visit LandLine.media.
One legislative effort calls for a redo on express lanes along the Palmetto Expressway, or state Road 826, in the Miami area. Toll pricing is determined by traffic patterns.
HB829/SB1090 would eliminate express lanes on SR 826. Instead, all highway users could use the express lanes free of charge.
The Florida Department of Transportation would be responsible for removing the express lanes by July 1, 2020. The lanes would be converted to general purpose lanes.
In addition, any future toll collection would be barred on the roadway.
Another bill would appropriate $1.6 million from the state’s general fund to benefit a new trucking school. Specifically, HB2721 would route the money to the Department of Education to fund the Pensacola State College – Trucking Workforce Development program.
A Senate bill covers traffic fines. SB687 would reduce to infractions multiple violations that now are classified as a Class C misdemeanor, or unspecified misdemeanor. Violations that would be affected include operating a vehicle at such a slow speed that it impedes traffic; operating a vehicle at a speed below 40 mph on an interstate; and any bus or truck following within 300 feet of another such vehicle.
Another Senate bill would prohibit the use of ticket cameras. Existing programs in the state would be required to be terminated in one year. SB709 would not affect data and information recorded at weigh stations.
Two bills are of note. HB1383 would prohibit commercial vehicles with three or more axles from traveling in the left lanes of an interstate or turnpike. Specifically, the bill would limit truck travel in the left lane from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. or 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
HB1137 covers excessive speeding for all drivers. State law defines excessive speeding as traveling at a rate that is at least 15 mph above the speed limit. The bill would revise the rule to cover instances where drivers are caught traveling 10 mph above the posted limit.
An effort in both statehouse chambers would establish a pilot program covering ticket cameras. Specifically, A8832/S5223 would authorize speed cameras to be used in work zones. Locations would be determined using speed data, crash history, and how the road was built.
One bill halfway through the statehouse addresses the use of speed timing devices. Radar and speedometers are required by statute to be on a calibration cycle of one year. Electronic timing devices, however, are on a calibration cycle of 60 days. HB1825 would extend the calibration testing cycle for nonradar speed timing devices to one year.
A House bill would raise the minimum speed limit along the state’s interstates. Specifically, H4708 reads that along highways with a maximum posted speed of
70 mph the minimum speed would be 50 mph – up from 45 mph.
HB170 would require any commercial vehicle in excess of 26,000 pounds to be equipped with a truck-specific GPS system for occasions the truck is operating on a roadway other than an interstate.
A pair of bills would require drivers of all vehicles to yield the right-of-way to large trucks when driving through roundabouts. HB2245/SB6084 would apply the rule when the driver of the other vehicle is driving through the traffic pattern at or near the same time. For occurrences where two large trucks are approaching a roundabout at about the same time, the vehicle on the right would be required to yield the right-of-way.
One House bill would double the length of time that a commercial learner’s permit is valid. State law now issues affected permits for 180 days. Renewals are available for a separate 180 days. HB7 would extend the length of time that a permit is valid to 365 days. There would be no renewal period. LL