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Higher-Speed Bill Goes to Scott

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The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Florida's House and Senate both passed a bill on Wednesday that would allow the state Department of Transportation to raise the speed limit by 5 mph on roadways where it is safe to do so.

It was a real squeaker of a vote on the House side. Members didn't divide along party lines. It was more about fear.

"Got three kids, two of which have just gotten their licenses," said Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg. "I want them to go slower, not faster."

Rep. Dave Kerner, D-Lake Worth, used to be a police officer: "I took an extra lap around the block, I was so scared to wake a mother up to tell her that her child had died. I'd done this four times."

And a representative from Ocala: "I'm Dennis Baxley. I'm a speeder. I can't vote for this bill." He's a funeral director:  

"In my early career I was the ambulance attendant," said Baxley, R-Ocala. "I have had to scrape people off the road."

Supporters said it's actually safer for a driver to go the same speed as the rest of traffic. Since most drivers speed, they said, it makes sense to raise the limit.

Anyway, the increase isn't automatic, said Rep.  Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton. "We're not changing the speed limit, we're letting DOT, who are the experts in this field, make that decision."

The House vote was  58 to 56 in favor. The margin was wider in the Senate, 27 to 11.

Now it goes to the governor.

 

Carol Gentry, founder and special correspondent of Health News Florida, has four decades of experience covering health finance and policy, with an emphasis on consumer education and protection.