Tampa Rep. Jackie Toledo was joined by Brandon Rep. Andrew Learned on Tuesday morning to unveil bipartisan electric vehicle legislation.
Toledo and Learned, along with Rep. Rene Plasencia, are sponsoring HB 817 and HB 819, which would expand electric vehicle infrastructure in Florida. Pinellas County Sen. Jeff Brandes previously filed the Senate versions of the bills.
“This legislation will encourage local governments and municipalities to adopt and invest in electric vehicle infrastructure,” Toledo said.
The bills would develop an electric vehicle infrastructure grant initiative to allow local municipalities to apply for a matching program, depending on their funding needs, Toledo said.
The match program includes a 30% match for technical assistance, a 60% match for Level 2 charging stations and a 20% match for direct current fast charging stations, she said.
“Floridians needs confidence that they can get from point A to point B without worrying if they run out of charge for their car,” Toledo said.
To fund the proposed electric vehicle charging station grant program, the proposal would dedicate revenue from electric vehicle registrations to install additional charging stations.
“Electric vehicles are our future, and we need to get ready for it,” Learned said. “Not only is this a forward-thinking approach, will help us kickstart charging infrastructure across the state and move us to adopt this green technology sooner, but it will help us invest in transportation for years to come.”
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.
“What we have fundamentally here is a chicken and the egg situation,” Learned said. “When it comes to investing in electric infrastructure, there’s not enough cars to warrant expensive infrastructure investment, and drivers are hesitant to invest in the electric vehicles without robust charging infrastructure that will get them where they want to go — and what HB 817 and 819 does, is, it changes that.”
The representatives spoke in front of the Cumberland Garage at Water Street Tampa, a development project in Tampa’s Channelside district.
Toledo highlighted project real estate development firm Strategic Property Partners is installing 32 new charging stations in the garage, bringing the grand total to 144 charging stations in the Water Street project.
“By utilizing innovative technologies and resilient infrastructure, Water Street will be the leader for other cities to follow in a post pandemic world,” Toledo said.
The House bills have each been assigned three committees, the first being Tourism, Infrastructure and Energy Subcommittee. The matching Senate bills have also been given committee assignments, but have yet to be heard. However, with the clear bipartisan support for the proposals, the bills may have the backing they need to make it to the Governor’s desk.
“We must act to ensure that the state of Florida doesn’t suffer the consequences of inaction,” Toledo said. “Sea level rise and increasingly intense storms have the potential to burden the state of Florida for generations to come. Adopting electric vehicle technologies will in turn improve air quality, reduce reliance on fossil fuels, and reduce a person’s carbon footprint.”