Lawmakers have packed a treat for commuters in their bundle of Special Session bills.
Legislation filed Friday evening would give frequent toll road drivers a 50% credit on their tolls throughout 2023. Drivers would have to pass through tolling places 35 times each month to receive credit for the month.
Freshman Indian Rocks Beach Republican Sen. Nick DiCeglie and Coral Gables Republican Rep. Demi Busatta Cabrera filed identical bills (HB 5A/SB 6A), which set aside $500 million to reimburse the Department of Transportation (DOT) and toll agencies like the Florida Turnpike Enterprise.
Gov. Ron DeSantis had floated a half-off discount for frequent drivers back in September.
The proposal comes only three days before lawmakers convene for a one-week Special Session primarily on property insurance. However, legislative leaders added disaster and toll relief to the list of Session topics this week.
The program would benefit more than 750,000 Florida drivers with an average savings of $550 over the year, DeSantis estimated when he announced it.
If passed, the credit program will be the third relief program in Florida this year aimed at commuters. During the Regular Session, lawmakers approved a one-month holiday on gas taxes throughout October.
And for six months that began Sept. 1, DeSantis instituted a 20% credit for drivers who make 40 transactions and a 25% credit for drivers who did it 80 times. However, because the state doesn’t control tolls on the Central Florida Expressway Authority or the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority, DeSantis’ program doesn’t apply to those tolls.
The new legislation applies to all state toll facility entities that use state-issued transponders or that are hooked into the DOT’s prepaid electronic transponder toll system.
The legislation also requires DOT to submit quarterly reports to DeSantis and legislative budget leaders documenting reimbursements. Those leaders are Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Doug Broxson, a Pensacola Republican, and House Appropriations Committee Chair Tom Leek, an Ormond Beach Republican.