Tales from Tallahassee
Looking back on March – Florida Bicycle Month, I would be remiss if I failed to mention that this year, the Florida legislative session officially started in March. Tuesday, March 2, 2021, to be exact. The session will officially end on Friday, April 30, 2021.
Admittedly, I haven’t talked much about this legislative session. Maybe this is due to the pandemic as things are not quite the same at the capital. There are COVID-19 protocols and no gatherings in the halls or the capital plaza. The elevators in the main building no longer have floor buttons to press. It is very weird, and very, very quiet.
I know about the elevators because I found myself in Tallahassee at the main capital building on Monday, March 22, nearly a month ago. My visit was to attend the first House committee meeting of HB 605, our Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety bill. Attendance for House committee meetings are limited and you need to register in advance and yes, your reservation will be verified.
I did not testify but waived in support of the bill on behalf of FBA. Amendments were filed that the bill sponsor explained were needed as a means to compromise in order for the bill to pass committees and ultimately become a law. The bill removed our Move Over initiative (a fight for another day), but kept other key changes, such as allowing motorists to cross a double-yellow line when passing a cyclist.
Suffice to say, it ain’t over until it’s over. These last few weeks of session can play out like the last two minutes of a close basketball game. FBA is seeking removal of a few lines in the current bill and FBA has assurances from the bill sponsor this will happen. I know it’s not the most pleasant position to be in, having amendments adopted on the floor. It somewhat reminds me of having to throw a Hail Mary pass (yes, I went from basketball to football on sports analogies), but here’s the deal: it can be done and I have seen it done in the past.
Of course, the key takeaway from this process is simple: our Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety bill has made it through committees in both the House and Senate. Our bill is closer than it has ever been to reaching the Governor and becoming a law. Our bill is in a very good position to cross the finish line (yep, other sport analogy).
It ain’t over until it’s over. I’ll be watching floor votes and listening for the amendments. Whatever happens, the key takeaway from this session is simple: FBA has identified legislative champions in the Florida House and Senate, and we look forward to working with them next session and beyond.
And now, your moment of Zen:
May – National Bike Month is right around the corner! Check out the League of American Bicyclists National Bike Month webpage for ideas on how to celebrate.
What’s your cycling story? Is it in the Messenger? Our quarterly Messenger newsletter is available online for your internet reading pleasure, just visit the FBA website Home page . Want a hard copy of our Messenger? FBA members have the Messenger delivered to their door every quarter. Join Florida Bicycle Association or visit one of our bicycle shop members to pick up a copy and use the membership form inside to join!