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Will Gov. Ron DeSantis give Florida's left-lane bill green light?

'I saw that they did pass it. I'm actually going to speak to our highway patrol folks,' DeSantis says
Posted at 5:14 PM, Apr 05, 2024

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Is the left-lane bill a no-go? If signed, it reserves the furthest left lane on many Florida highways for passing and exiting only. Florida's governor is not yet sure if he'll put his name on it.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has only vetoed one bill to date this year. That social media ban was amended and later got DeSantis' signature anyway. But lawmakers have since gone home and the governor has already signaled he has questions about the left-lane legislation, meaning it may be a bumpy road for the policy.

Lawmakers, nearly unanimously, approved HB 317 more than a month ago. Since then it has yet to make the journey to the governor's desk.

If it becomes law, far left lanes on most Florida highways would be just for passing and exiting. It would apply only to multi-lane roads of two or more, with a speed limit of 65 or greater. Those who don't comply could face a fine of more than $150.

"I knew that that bill was percolating," DeSantis said in late February. "I saw that they did pass it. I'm actually going to speak to our highway patrol folks."

When we last spoke to DeSantis about the bill, his signature didn't sound like a sure thing. The governor wanted to consult with law enforcement and Florida Department of Transportation officials before getting out his felt-tipped pens.

"I'm going to actually talk to people," DeSantis in Pensacola. "See whether they think it would be a benefit — both in terms of safety and convince too. We want people to get where they can go as quickly and safely as possible. But then also enforcement, is that going to be for these guys — is that going radically change how they do their job."

The governor's communication team said Friday they didn't have an update on whether DeSantis had made up his mind. That's as the bill's backers remained hopeful.

"I think some of his concern may be how do you enforce it," Sen. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, said. "Well, that's true with any traffic laws."

Perry is sponsoring the bill and said he had faith he could get the governor in the driver's seat, eventually.

"It's illegal to pass," he said. "We're breaking the law to pass on the right side every time you do that. But it's more important — it's safety issues."

A recent study by the Arizona-based Suzuki Law firm found Florida is one of the deadliest states when it comes to changing lanes, ranked fifth nationally. The data is based on info from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

While we never really know when a bill will arrive, once it does, the governor will have some time to mull it. If he signs, the changes take effect in January of next year.