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Proposed Senate bill would pull plug on some electric car parking spaces


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An agriculture package in the Senate now has language leaving it to a state agency where to cap charging spots.

An agriculture bill includes provisions that could prohibit developers from dedicating too many parking spaces for electric vehicles.

Language in legislation advanced by the Senate would preempt local governments from requiring more parking lot spaces to be reserved for electric vehicles. Instead, state regulations would be the only threshold imposed.

But during committee discussion, Sen. Jay Collins, a Tampa Republican carrying the bill, made clear the measure would outlaw extra spaces even if developers want to put them in. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will control the threshold setting.

“The Department percentage will be the cap,” Collins said. “That’s what this is. If they went above that, they would not be in concert with this law. That’s just so people can have parking spots. You can’t park in an electric car space if you are not in an electric car. It’s about percentages of people on the road.”

That appeared to surprise Sen. Tina Polsky, a Boca Raton Democrat, who thought the legislation would only preempt local governments putting regulations in excess of state requirements.

“I thought this was just a preemption,” she said. “Like if my city of Boca Raton said any new buildings had to have five electric parking vehicle spots, and you’re saying they can’t put that requirement on. But it sounds like you are also saying if a development voluntarily puts six spots on and the Department of Ag says the max is five, they can’t do that.”

Collins said the state would cap spots, though he stressed that would be based on the percentage of spaces in lots, not setting a number of spaces.

“We’re going to have up to a percentage,” Collins said. “You can’t say we’re going to have 40% at all of our hotels will be electric parking. That max number will be the limitation on this.”

That drew concerns from contractors.

Theresa King, President of the Florida Building and Construction Trades Council, said the new language getting lumped into an agriculture package sounded alarms. At the least, she said the matter should be discussed in an individual bill.

“If you are going to look at the dollars and you are worried about subdivisions or complexes or strip malls, and all of a sudden, they grow in popularity and they need more EV stations and they do get approved to it, now you’ve got to cut the concrete to get the pipe laid,” she said.

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets, including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at jacobogles@hotmail.com.