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  • Jim Turner, News Service of Florida

Florida House targets stadiums, cameras, car insurance

TALLAHASSEE — A measure intended to keep professional sports teams from building or renovating stadiums on publicly owned land and a separate proposal to repeal Florida’s red-light camera law were among numerous bills set up Thursday for House votes.

The House also teed up proposals that would place new lobbying restrictions on state and local lawmakers as they leave office (HB 5 and HB 7003) and eliminate the state’s no-fault auto insurance system (HB 19). Votes are likely Florida.

Each measure moved forward Thursday after the Republican-dominated House also set up a proposal (HB 9) that would ban so-called “sanctuary cities” despite the objections of Democrats, immigrant advocates and civil rights groups.

Each proposal must still pass the Senate — where many of the proposals failed in the 2017 legislative session — to reach Gov. Rick Scott.

Eliminating the red-light camera law (HB 6001) has been a target for lawmakers since the Mark Wandall Traffic Safety Act of 2010 was created.

Bill sponsor Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, said nearly half the money collected from red-light violations goes to vendors that provide the cameras. He also said driving behavior has not been shown to have changed.

“The bill started off with a noble cause, but I think the data is showing it’s not so noble,” Ingoglia said. “It’s actually creating an environment at these intersections … where it’s contributing to more crashes.”

A repeal would prevent the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and local governments from using the cameras for traffic enforcement.

The effort to prohibit taxpayer dollars from being used to help professional sports stadiums has also been a target of House leaders in recent years.

The measure (HB 13) would prohibit sports franchises from constructing, reconstructing, renovating, or improving facilities on public lands. The bill also would require leases of facilities on public land to sports franchises to be made at fair market value, preventing local communities from donating land for sports complexes.

The lobbying restrictions, meanwhile, would extend to six years an existing two-year ban on lawmakers and statewide elected officials from lobbying their former agencies.

The bill debated Thursday that likely would affect the most Floridians would be the elimination of the no-fault auto insurance system, which requires motorists to carry $10,000 in personal-injury protection coverage.

The proposal, sponsored by Rep. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach, would move more auto-crash cases into the courts and require motorists to have bodily injury coverage. It is projected to save motorists on average $81 a year.

The minimum bodily-injury coverage would be $25,000 for damages for injury or death of one person and $50,000 for injury or death of two or more people.

Lawmakers in 2012 passed a bill — championed by Scott and then-state Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater — to try to reform the no-fault system, which they said was riddled by fraud.

But efforts have increased recently to repeal no-fault and replace it with a tort-based system.


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