Democrat Sen. Darryl Rouson has joined Republican Rep. Amber Mariano in refiling a bill to give Mayors more flexibility as members of the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority.
Under the law currently in place, mayors who serve on the regional transit group must be present to vote.
“The idea behind the whole bill is [to] streamline and facilitate the meeting process so some things can actually get done,” Rouson said.
The bills clarify that the Mayor’s alternate must be an elected member of the City Council or Commission of the Mayor’s municipality and be approved by the municipality’s governing board.
Last year, a similar bill was filed but died after passing through its committees. Democratic Rep. Ben Diamond sponsored the House version of the bill.
The bill would also rename the TBARTA’s Metropolitan Planning Organization Chairs Coordinating Committee to just the Chairs Coordinating Committee.
The governing board requires two members to be mayors, and if passed, mayor delegates.
Currently, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman serve on the board.
The transit board covers Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota counties. Rouson represents parts of Hillsborough, Manatee and Pinellas counties; Mariano represents part of Pasco County.
So far, the current Senate bill has been referred to three committees: Transportation, Community Affairs and Rules.
In 2017, the Legislature passed a bill that was later signed into law transitioning TBARTA from a transportation agency to one focused on transit. The shift strengthened TBARTA’s policy-making ability and created a regional planning entity to focus more on regional transit connectivity.