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Thursday, Apr 26, 2018
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Expressway bill limits Miami tolls but not Tampa’s

TALLAHASSEE — Control over tolls would remain local in the Tampa area under legislation now moving forward in the Capitol.

A House panel on Tuesday cleared a bill (HB 353) that adds new ethics-related provisions to the state’s expressway authorities, including Tampa-Hillsborough County’s.

But a change requiring a supermajority vote to raise tolls in Miami-Dade does not apply elsewhere in the state. Tolls there have increased 100 percent in the last few years, said bill sponsor Jeanette Nuñez, R-Miami.

The bill, however, would not roll back any previously approved toll increase.

No one from the Tampa-Hillsborough County Expressway Authority spoke at the meeting.

Authority spokeswoman Susan Chrzan declined to comment at length, though she said in an email that the change to the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority “does set an ominous precedent.”

Other provisions in the measure include:

♦ Prohibiting lobbyists from serving on expressway authorities.

♦ Requiring conflict of interest disclosures and reviews of disclosures.

♦ Prohibiting expressway authority members from serving on other transportation-related boards.

The last provision caused the most distress among speakers at the House Transportation and Economic Development subcommittee, who said authority members often need to sit on metropolitan planning organizations, for example.

Nuñez said she would be open to amending the bill to address that concern.

The Hillsborough authority operates the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway and the access roads Brandon Parkway and Meridian Avenue.

The bill next will be heard by the House Economic Affairs committee. Related bills have been filed in both the House and Senate this year.

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