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House, Senate transportation trains on different tracks

The House version of an omnibus transportation bill was unveiled last week, featuring many more provisions than the Senate package.

Both HB 7175 and SB 1272 extend more state oversight to the Mid-Bay Bridge Authority, do away with the Florida Statewide Passenger Rail Commission and allow for Pinellas Bayway tolls to be used for maintenance, among other provisions.

But the grab-back packet of transportation provisions in the House and Senate are not perfectly aligned.

The House version includes measures to allow for Alligator Alley (I-75) tolls to be used for a Collier County fire station, allow for the Department of Transportation to pay for eligible capital improvement projects at airports, allow DOT to conduct maintenance repairs to local roads providing access to state parks and direct the Florida Transportation Commission to conduct a feasibility study on generating revenue from parking meters on state roads.

The Senate version doesn't include those provisions and has some other measures omitted by the House: extending the current moratorium on new specialty license plates for two years, prohibiting buses from impeding traffic to pick up or let off passengers, expanding testing locations for autonomous vehicles and requiring the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to develop a digital option for proof of a driver's license.

Though SB 1272 contains fewer provisions than the House, it does contain a sweetener that could garner House support. House Speaker Will Weatherford's plan to reduce driver's license suspensions and make it easier for those who commit minor offenses to receive a business-only driving permit is included in the bill.

Last year, the omnibus transportation package (HB 7127), bounced between chambers in the final week as the House and Senate added and subtracted provisions and the bill never made it into law.

Source: The Florida Current