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A pair of bills would evaluate how to increase access to electric vehicle charging stations.

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Jeff Brandes introduces legislation to expand electric vehicle options in Florida

The bill would also increase focus on emerging transportation technologies.

Sen. Jeff Brandes filed a bill Thursday that would expand electric vehicle infrastructure in Florida.

Brandes’ bill (SB 1230) would incorporate emerging innovative technologies into the Florida Department of Transportation’s mission and establish a grant program to increase electric vehicle charging stations throughout the state.

“Experts believe that by 2030 up to a third of new cars sold will be electric.” Brandes said. “EV technology can reduce the costs families pay for transportation, mitigate our impact on the environment and, importantly, reduce our reliance on foreign oil.”

Under FDOT’s current mission, the agency is merely required to “ensure a cost-effective, statewide, interconnected transportation system,” but does not have to consider innovation in its planning.

Brandes’ bill adds a requirement that “improvement of travel choices will include planning and establishment of infrastructure for innovative technologies, including EV charging infrastructure.”

To fund the proposed electric vehicle charging station grant program, Brandes’ proposal would dedicate revenue from electric vehicle registrations to install additional charging stations.

The grants would be available to state agencies, public universities, transit agencies, ports, airports and local governments.

“The grant program will help develop routes for evacuation along key corridors,” Brandes said. “And with the expansion of infrastructure, Floridians will have a greater ability to choose the vehicle that’s right for them, their families and our environment.”

The bill would also require FDOT to review emerging technology research and its own policies related to electric vehicle infrastructure and standards and then publish best policies.

Brandes’ bill include a $5 million appropriation.

It does not yet have a companion in the House.

Brandes has emerged as a champion for innovative transportation solutions and micro-mobility options. Brandes led the charge to create a uniformed statewide regulatory environment for transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft. He’s also supported and filed several bills to make it easier to test and implement automated vehicle technology. Brandes recently filed a bill that would allow Floridians and visitors to operate electric bikes under the same rules as traditional bicycles.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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