Fiona McFarland to again helm transportation-focused panel in House

McFarland brings private sector and military experience to the committee.

A Sarasota Republican is returning to her leadership role on a lawmaking panel that has historically tackled a hodgepodge of transportation issues, from improving school-zone safety to preparing Florida’s roads for the future.

Rep. Fiona McFarland will again chair the Transportation and Modals Committee of the House. Republican Speaker Paul Renner recently announced the assignments in advance of the House’s 2024 Session committee meetings, beginning September 18.

McFarland, a Naval Academy graduate and former McKinsey consultant, chaired the same committee last year, which has been responsible for or instrumental in developing key transportation-related legislation.

Highlights from the 2023 Session for the panel include HB 709, which addressed motorcycle safety, the school-bus-safety law produced by HB 741, and a successful bill (HB 949) requiring a driver’s permit to operate a golf cart. The committee also played a key role in a new law allowing camera enforcement of school-zone speeding and was instrumental in developing HB 1305, a bill allowing state inspections of Disney’s monorail system.

The committee has also addressed forward-looking topics like electric and autonomous vehicles.

Last year, McFarland’s committee workshopped legislation (HB 425) intended to update roads so that they can accommodate futuristic modes of transportation.

“When we talk about autonomous vehicles on the road, we want it to be safe,” McFarland said during a committee meeting in February.

That topic remains on the radar for McFarland, who recently shared on the social media site X that she received the Future of Mobility Leadership Award at the Florida Autonomous Vehicles Summit. Former Sen. Jeff Brandes, a legislative pioneer on cutting-edge topics like autonomous vehicles, had presented McFarland with the award.

McFarland will also sit on the Infrastructure Strategies Committee during the 2024 Legislative Session, which kicks off January 9. Her other assignments include the following subcommittees: Civil Justice; Energy, Communications & Cybersecurity; and Regulatory Reform & Economic Development.

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