Jeff Brandes refiles electric vehicle charging station grant program bill
Jeff Brandes' electric vehicle expansion bill is speeding along.

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The program would establish grants to increase EV charging stations in Florida.

Sen. Jeff Brandes refiled a bill Friday that would expand electric vehicle infrastructure in Florida.

The bill (SB 138) 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. The bill does not yet have a House companion.

The bill is nearly identical to another Brandes filed in the 2020 Legislative Session. That bill (SB 1230) died in the Infrastructure and Security committee in March. That was its first committee of reference, meaning a second effort this year may face challenges.

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

Like his previous bill, Brandes’ refile 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 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. In a tough budget year, that appropriation could create roadblocks for the Senator. With the COVID-19 pandemic hampering state revenue, lawmakers are expected to make tough budget decisions this year.

Still, Brandes sees the legislation as crucial for the future of transportation in the Sunshine State.

“Experts believe that by 2030 up to a third of new cars sold will be electric.” Brandes said when he filed the 2020 legislation. “EV technology can reduce the costs families pay for transportation, mitigate our impact on the environment and, importantly, reduce our reliance on foreign oil.”

Brandes has emerged as a champion for innovative transportation solutions and micro-mobility options. He 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 in previous sessions to make it easier to test and implement automated vehicle technology.

The bill comes one day after Brandes kicked off the annual Florida Automated Vehicles Summit, an event that assembles industry leaders from around the world to address technology, operations and policies that affect emerging autonomous vehicle infrastructure.

The FAV this year is taking place virtually through a five-part series that will run from December through April 2021.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected]


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