June 05, 2017

Bill Nelson will fight Donald Trump over air traffic control privatization

Bill Nelson

@alextdaugherty

President Donald Trump threw his weight behind a proposal to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system on Monday, and a White House adviser called the multi-billion dollar effort “low-hanging fruit” that can get through Congress quickly.

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson doesn’t see it that way.

Nelson, up for reelection in 2018, is the top Democrat on the Senate committee which oversees the Federal Aviation Administration. He fought for years against proposals to hand the nation’s air traffic control system over to a private non-profit, which he argues will hurt smaller airports and recreational flights.

“The safety of the flying public should not be for sale,” Nelson said Monday. “Handing air traffic control over to a private entity partly governed by the airlines is both a risk and liability we can’t afford to take.”

Nelson’s opposition has been successful for years, as Democrats and Republicans from rural states fretted about privatization’s effect on small airports and recreational aviation. A privatization bill proposed by House Transportation chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., didn’t even make it to the House floor last Congress.

But President Trump, with Shuster at his side, pitched air traffic control privatization as a win for consumers on Monday, putting pressure on congressional Republicans to get on board.

“For too many years, our country has tolerated unacceptable delays at the airport, long wait times on the tarmac and a slowing of commerce and travel that costs us billions and billions of dollars in lost hours and lost dollars themselves,” Trump said at a White House speech touting the plan.

Read more here. 

October 04, 2016

Traffic tolls become issue in Bullard-Artiles Senate race

Transport3+tolls+lnew+cmg

@ByKristenMClark

A Miami Republican state representative seeking to be promoted to the Florida Senate this fall says he’s “taking a stand against tolls” — tapping into a popular consumer issue that puts him at odds with some in his own party.

Frank Artiles, who’s running against incumbent Democratic Sen. Dwight Bullard in Miami-Dade’s District 40, says he wants to fight back against “excessive and abusive tolls” that South Florida commuters face on a daily basis.

But Bullard, of Cutler Bay, has his own plans to reduce Miami-Dade commuters’ toll bills, and he argues his plan is more feasible than the one by moderate-sounding Republicans like Artiles, whose solution Bullard said is “to just get rid of the tolls.”

Full story here.

Photo credit: El Nuevo Herald file photo

April 04, 2016

Gov. Rick Scott signs transportation policy bill

@ByKristenMClark

Republican Gov. Rick Scott today signed a bill that increases the amount of money available in the Florida Seaport and Economic Development Program and makes other changes to statewide transportation policy, such as laws affecting "self-driving" cars.

Scott had until April 14 to sign HB 7027, but he approved it five days after the Legislature sent it to him last week.

The bill requires the state to appropriate a minimum of $25 million yearly into the seaport program, $10 million more than the current annual requirement.

It also changes laws affecting autonomous, or "self-driving," vehicles and who can operate them.

For instance, according to a legislative analysis, the new law allows self-driving vehicles to operate on public roads "by any person holding a valid driver license, without the need to be designated by an autonomous vehicle manufacturer for testing purposes, and without any testing. The physical presence of an operator is no longer required."

Read the approved law here.

September 22, 2015

Senate chairman wants data, info on driver's license suspensions

@ByKristenMClark

IMG_brandes.jpg_2_1_S34B3CH5_L112445816
Sen. Jeff Brandes

Taking the next steps in an effort to "produce a substantive bill to reform the inequities in the practice of driver license suspension," the chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee on Tuesday asked two state agencies and court clerks statewide to gather information and provide it to senators.

The requests by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, come about a week after the first of what is expected to be several committee hearings on the topic before the 2016 legislative session starts in January.

A report last month by The Miami Herald found that 77 percent of all license suspensions in Florida between 2012 and 2015 occurred because of a failure to pay fees. In Miami-Dade County alone, 29 percent of all drivers had their licenses suspended, many of them the working poor who can't pay the high fees to get reinstated.

In letters to the heads of the Departments of Corrections and of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and the president of the Florida Association of Court Clerks and Comptrollers, Brandes asked for data including:

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