The Florida Current
Posted: March 17, 2014
Written by: Arek Sarkissian
A Senate bill would implement a uniform standard that Florida gas stations would use to alert persons with disabilities of ways to get help at the pump, but advocates say it does not do enough.
SB 1184, by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, would require filling stations to affix a decal that would provide drivers with a local telephone number to call for assistance pumping gas. Enforcement of the decal would be left up to the state Department of Agriculture.
The bill was heard on Monday by the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee, where it received unanimous approval.
“It’s the one cost effective thing we can do to help everyone out,” Brandes said after the meeting. “This is something that I think everyone can afford and it will bring help to those who need it.”
The bill would supersede any local ordinances, which would include one passed last year by the Leon County Commission that requires gas stations to install an intercom system. The decals cost a few dollars but the intercom system could cost more than $1,000, Brandes said.
“I just think that’s too costly for some businesses,” he said.
The push for the Leon County ordinance was led by Americans with Disabilities Act consultant J.R. Harding, who said the local measure allowed him to fill his vehicle without the help of an aide or a stranger.
“This was for the first time in 30 years that I could pump my own gas,” Harding told the committee.
HB 185 is a similar bill by Rep. Mark Danish, D-Tampa, that has one more committee stop before heading to the House floor. The Senate version still has stops in the Agriculture and Appropriations committees.
The progression of both bills left Harding pessimistic.
“It’s game on, I guess,” he said after the Senate meeting. “I got to hear that I could pump gas on my own for the first time in 30 years and now I’m being told I may not to anymore.”
Contact reporter Arek Sarkissian at firstname.lastname@example.org