ELECTION 2014: Voters evaluate track records of Florida governor, former governor

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Tuesday, August 19, 2014

As Election Day draws near, it’s a good idea to take a glimpse back at some notable actions by incumbents. In Florida, voters will choose between the sitting governor and his predecessor.

Below are some actions relevant to trucking that Republican Gov. Rick Scott and his Democratic challenger Charlie Crist have taken during their time in office.

This spring, Gov. Scott signed into law a bill that will eventually trim about $400 million from the fees and surcharges applied to license plate purchases, replacement or transfers and vehicle registration.

The fee increases were implemented in 2009 by then-Gov. Crist. He enacted the increase to help plug a $2.3 billion budget hole.

Crist also acted to save money for road and bridge projects around the state. In 2010, the former governor vetoed an effort to strip $160 million from transportation. He removed a provision from a bill that authorized raiding the State Transportation Fund to help cover state budget deficits.

Gov. Scott signed a bill into law this year combining the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority with existing authorities in Lake, Seminole and Osceola counties to create the Central Florida Expressway Authority.

The new law also covers ethics and disclosure rules for CFX board members.

The change follows multiple indictments of OOCEA board members on charges that included solicitation for bribery by a public servant, solicitation for receiving unlawful compensation and solicitation for exerting influence.

In 2007, during his first year as governor, Crist authorized the state Department of Transportation to lease most toll roads in the state to private groups. The leasing provision was applied to any existing toll facilities in the state’s highway system, except the Florida Turnpike. It also permitted private groups to build and operate new roads, and regularly increase toll rates.

“I don’t know if it’s good or bad at this point, but I think it’s important to continue to be innovative,” Crist told The Associated Press at the time.

During Crist’s term in office he also streamlined security requirements that require port workers to undergo separate security screenings – and pay separate fees – at every port.

Seaports were banned from issuing individual identification cards. In addition, a database was created to allow ports to share security screening information enabling workers to carry one ID card thus reducing fees.

Scott also addressed seaports in a 2011 law to end state-mandated credentialing. The rule change removed state regulations at Florida’s 14 seaports that mirrored federal security rules used across the country.

Specifically, the state continued to issue local port access cards that were good only for the specific port a couple of years after the federal Transportation Worker Identification Credential was fully implemented at all Florida seaports.

The three-year-old law prohibits a port from charging a fee for local access cards that require a fingerprint-based background check, in addition to the federal TWIC.

Other issues of interest the pair has acted numerous times to address include road safety efforts.

This summer Gov. Scott signed a bill allowing police to ticket people driving slow in the far left lanes on interstates and highways. To avoid possible ticketing, slow drivers are supposed to move to the right.

Also approved are new guidelines on the use of automated license plate readers. The technology is used to capture the date, time and location of passing vehicles. Specifically, a statewide policy must set the length of time that the records of innocent people could be kept.

Former Gov. Crist signed a bill into law in 2010 that set statewide standards for the state’s red-light camera program and allowed cities and counties to set up cameras at intersections.

Three years later Gov. Scott changed rules related to camera tickets. He authorized cities, not judges, to hear challenges from drivers who dispute their violations.

In addition, the rule was changed on turning right on red. No longer can drivers be ticketed when the vehicle comes to a complete stop – even after crossing the stop line – before making legal right turns on red.

Earlier this year Scott vetoed a bill that could have set the posted speed limit on highways for all vehicles to as much as 75 mph.

“Although the bill does not mandate higher speed limits, allowing for the possibility of faster driving on Florida’s roads and highways could ultimately and unacceptably increase the risk of serious accidents,” Scott wrote in his veto message.

More information is available on Gov. Scott and Charlie Crist’s views on transportation issues.

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