Proposed Florida bill could block local EV charging station rules to prevent local regulations

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — An effort to prevent local governments from regulating electric vehicle charging stations started to move through the Florida Senate on Tuesday as part of a wide-ranging package dealing with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

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The Senate Agriculture Committee voted 4-1 to approve the bill (SB 1084), which would limit regulation of EV charging stations to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which oversees pumps at gas stations.

But Sen. Lori Berman, D-Boca Raton, said cities and counties need to have a say in where charging stations can be located.

Committee Chairman Jay Collins, R-Tampa, said the bill would clarify a “patchwork” of requirements that businesses face across the state involving charging stations.

“If you just allow everybody to put them where they want, it could be a problem for traffic and safety,” Berman said. “We passed a bill last year that was supposed to be the preemption to end all preemptions. So, I don’t understand why we are doing further preemptions.”

Florida has 3,230 public charging stations in 44 of the 67 counties, and a staff analysis of the bill said electric vehicles made up nearly 3% of all cars sold in Florida from July 2020 to July 2021. Meanwhile, the number of charging stations has increased.

The bill, which needs approval from two more committees before it can go to the full Senate, deals with a broad range of issues related to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Among those issues is a proposed prohibition on the manufacture and sale of meat cultivated from animal cells, or what is sometimes known as lab-grown meat.

An identical House bill (HB 1071) has been filed.

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A 2021 state law already prohibits local governments from mandating such things as electric vehicle charging stations on gas retailers.

That bill was in reaction to a move by Petaluma, Calif., banning new gas stations to accelerate the shift to electric vehicles.

Meanwhile, Florida lawmakers also are looking this year to make up for lost gas-tax dollars caused by motorists shifting to electric vehicles. Gas-tax money goes for transportation projects, such as road and bridge work.

A Senate staff analysis has projected an increase in the use of electric vehicles could result in a 5.6 percent to 20 percent drop in “motor-fuel-based revenue streams” by 2040.

A Senate bill (SB 28) seeks to impose a $200 annual registration fee on owners of electric vehicles, an amount somewhat similar to the $283 that a typical Florida driver pays in fuel taxes each year.

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