Pointing to concerns raised by law-enforcement officers, Gov. Rick Scott on Monday vetoed a bill that could have led to 75 mph speed limits on some highways.
“Although the bill does not mandate higher speed limits, allowing for the possibility of faster driving on Florida’s roads and highways could ultimately and unacceptably increase the risk of serious accidents for Florida citizens and visitors,” Scott wrote in a veto message. “I strongly respect the opinion of state and local law enforcement officers who have contacted me to warn about the possible serious negative consequences should this bill become law. While the evidence suggests that increased driving speeds are not the sole cause of traffic accidents, they clearly contribute to the increased severity of vehicle crash outcomes in the form of needless injuries and deaths.”
Scott said last month he planned to veto the bill (SB 392), which was heavily debated during the legislative session that ended May 2. The bill passed the House in a 58-56 vote.
The bill would have allowed — but not required — the state Department of Transportation to raise highway speed limits by 5 mph, including going from 70 mph to 75 mph on some roads. While supporters pointed to the department’s role in deciding the proper speed limits, the bill drew opposition from the auto club AAA, along with law enforcement.
The veto came as Scott announced he had signed a $77 billion budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 and also approved 20 other bills passed this spring.
Most of the other bills were related to carrying out the budget, providing details about issues such as funding for schools.
Also, the bills delved into numerous policy areas. As an example, what is known as the budget “implementing” bill (HB 5003) spells out details of how the state would provide services to additional people who have developmental disabilities. Those details involve prioritizing people based on their needs and circumstances. The budget includes $20 million to help take people off a longstanding waiting list for services.
As another example of the bills signed Monday, Scott approved a measure (HB 5301) that calls for adding three additional appeals-court judges, with two in the 2nd District Court of Appeal and one in the 5th District Court of Appeal. That is far below the number of new judges the Florida Supreme Court said was needed. In December, the Supreme Court said the state needed seven additional circuit-court judges and 39 county-court judges.
The previous story is below.
Vetoed: No Higher Speeds on State Highways After All as Trooper’s Plea Moves Scott
May 13–Six days after a Florida Highway Patrol trooper gave an impassioned request against the proposal during the funeral service for a fellow trooper, Gov. Rick Scott said he will veto a measure that could increase speeds on state highways.
Scott told reporters after the state Cabinet meeting Tuesday that he will “stand with law enforcement” and veto the bill (SB 392), which has yet to be forwarded to his desk by state lawmakers.
“I’m going to stand with law enforcement and I want everybody to stay safe,” said Scott, who noted he had heard a wide range of opposition to the bill that would have allowed the Florida Department of Transportation to consider hiking maximum speed limits by 5 mph.
Scott added that comments last week against the bill by Trooper Tod Cloud were also “convincing.”
During a May 8 funeral ceremony for FHP Master Trooper Chelsea Renee Richard in Ocala, Cloud used his comments to tell Scott, who was in attendance, that the legislation “wasn’t a bright idea,” according to the Gainesville Sun.
Cloud was “very concerned about troopers being out there on the highway and people driving too fast,” Scott said. “By doing this we’re doing the right thing for our troopers and the right thing for law enforcement. I’ve been to too many law enforcement funerals.”
Richard was killed May 3 after being struck by a pickup truck while she was finishing up work on an earlier traffic accident on Interstate 75 near Ocala.
During the legislative session that ended earlier this month, the speed-limit proposal faced opposition from lawmakers at every stop in the committee process before being passed by a narrow 58-56 vote in the House and a more comfortable 27-11 Senate vote.
Shortly after Scott’s veto comments were reported, St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes, one of the sponsors of the measure, tweeted he will bring the proposal back next year.
“I am proud of the bipartisan support we received on SB 392 and I look forward to continuing this discussion next year,” Brandes tweeted.
Kevin Bakewell, vice president of AAA Auto Club South, which sought a face-to-face meeting with Scott to lay out their opposition to the bill, said the veto “will undoubtedly prevent injuries and save lives on our roadways.”
“Speed-related crashes are a major contributing factor in traffic crashes including 30 percent of traffic fatalities,” Bakewell said.
Sen. Jeff Clemens, a Lake Worth Democrat who also sponsored the bill, argued during session that a 5 mph increase is unlikely to impact road safety.
–Jim Turner, News Service of Florida