If at first you don’t succeed..
“Indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration” – the death of a bill. These are the words now attached to SB 90 and SB 116, two bills FBA followed throughout the 2018 Florida legislative session. Two bills that would have a) made texting while driving a primary offense (SB90) and b) put people in the current Move Over law (SB 116). This is sad news.
Oddly enough, the companion bills on the House side, HB 33 and HB 117, cleared all committee meetings. And although HB 116 was never heard on the House floor, HB 33 was heard and passed. This is good news.
Now that we know the fate, we are planning for the future, the future being the 2019 FL legislative session. It’s time to regroup – review lessons learned, be better organized and identify more legislators to champion our cause.
Granted we took a simplistic approach to law-making by simply asking to include Vulnerable Road Users in the current Move Over law, but what we learned is that the statute definition for vulnerable road users has issues. We even had cyclists contacting us for slighting them in our initiative without realizing that cyclists are defined as a vulnerable road user in the statute.
With the assistance of the House Policy staff, the original HB 117 was replaced with a strike-all amendment to take vulnerable road users out and replace the bill to address bicyclists and pedestrians. The “Operation of Vehicle” general bill became a “Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety” general bill. Thanks to the persistence of bill sponsor Representative Charlie Stone, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety bill cleared House committees without objection. In fact, as the bill gained momentum on the House, the following representatives signed on as co-sponsors: Hahnfeldt (passed away in December), Jacobs, Killebrew, McClain, Stark and C. Watson.
A standout on the House side is Representative Kristin Jacobs, District 96. During the December House Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Workshop, Rep. Jacobs shared her story of riding in Broward County and having a motorist honk and yell about her being in the road, to the point she no longer enjoys road riding. She stated clearly that change is needed. It should also be noted that Rep. Jacobs has organized a session-end bicycle ride on the St. Marks State Trail for elected officials who enjoy bicycling, or know someone that does, as a means to decompress and have fun.
I had a morning meeting with Rep. Jacobs on February 14 to discuss the possibility of another session-end ride, the possibility of a FL legislative bike caucus or bicycle/pedestrian caucus and the possibility of her being a legislative champion for the association. We got a YES on the last measure. Before I could follow up on the other points, the shock of the Parkland shooting was making the news. Parkland is in Rep. Jacobs’ District 96.
If anyone thinks being an elected official is easy, I can assure you, as someone who has run for public office, it is not. If anyone thinks the legislative process is a waste of time, again, I can assure you as someone attending committee meetings and meeting elected officials, it is not.
I believe it is human nature to strive for perfection, but what I have learned is that my idea of perfection is not necessarily the collective idea of perfection. We work with others not to defeat the other or to simply compromise; we work together to create improvements in the best interest of all as we continue to strive for perfection. I call this practicing CPR – Courtesy, Patience and Respect.
We look forward to working with Representative Jacobs, Representative Stone and Florida legislators to pass those improvements in 2019 to save the lives of bicyclists and pedestrians.
..try try again. Yes we will, until we succeed. Join us!