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House, Senate to consider scooter bills Tuesday

Both bills would get scooters off the sidewalk and onto the asphalt.

The House and Senate bills allowing scooters to share the road will both get committee hearings Tuesday.

It’ll be the first stop for SB 542 and the second for HB 453. Both bills would redefine motorized scooters in state law to treat them in a similar manner as bicycles, meaning they could cruise in bike lanes rather than be relegated to sidewalks.

That provision is the crux of the bill, which has a long list of scooter rental companies in its corner — Lime, Bird, Skip and even Uber, which offers e-bike and scooter rentals under the “JUMP” moniker.

But the bills contain other provisions that have drawn the ire of groups such as the Florida League of Cities.

The House bill, sponsored by Tampa GOP Rep. Jackie Toledo, bunny hopped the with a unanimous two weeks ago, though some members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee expressed concerns over what home-rule advocates have called “aggressive” pre-emption language.

The filed version of the bill wouldn’t allow local governments to cap the number of rental scooters or vendors operating within in their borders, supplanting programs such as the recently announced pilot in Tampa.

Opponents said cutting local governments out of the rule-making process could also be dangerous. Tops among those concerns were hurricanes — when the wind starts blowing, scooters could turn into dangerous projectiles without local communities being able to mandate disaster mitigation policies such as storage space.

Those concerns will be taken account when the bills head into committee Tuesday, at least on the Senate side.

St. Petersburg Republican Jeff Brandes, SB 542’s sponsor, told Florida Politics last week that scooter companies and home rule advocates sat down to hammer out a compromise.

Changes coming in a planned amendment would give local governments broad control over how to handle scooter rentals within their borders.

They could collect fees, limit the number of vendors and rental scooters or even keep scooter rentals out. The only nonnegotiable is the redefinition to allow scooters onto the asphalt.

It’s unclear whether House bill will get the same treatment. Toledo maintained in the first stop that such controls could hamper the electric two-wheelers from becoming being a reliable first-mile/last-mile solution — if a city sets a low cap, commuters could find themselves walking from the bus stop.

One frequent rider told Florida Politics that’s a valid take.

Even though Lime and Bird, the biggest scooter outfits, have a scooter nearby more often than not, he’s found himself opening the apps for smaller companies such as Bold and Gotcha on a few occasions.

HB 453 will go before the Local, Federal and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee at 8 a.m. SB 542 will be heard by the Infrastructure and Security at 4 p.m.

Written By

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.

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