TALLAHASSEE -- Sen. Andy Gardiner said Wednesday that a push to merge the tolling authorities of Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Lake counties may be dead for the year -- thanks to resistance from House Majority Leader Steve Precourt and a House slowdown prompted by Democrats that is killing other bills.
The Senate added the Central Florida Expressway authorization language to a transportation bill Tuesday (HB 7127), but its odds of passing in a gridlocked House are slim.
"Given where the House is with all their stuff, it's probably not going to make it," said Gardiner, an Orlando Republican slated to be the next Senate president. "We're going to put it on a few things. We're going to send it over, and if they don't like it they can strip it out."
Creating the Central Florida Expressway Authority has been a priority for Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Gardiner and other senators, but not the House, where Precourt has been fighting it all session. other counties -- Osceola in particular -- have also objected to the idea of allowing Orlando's mayor to sit on the board overseeing the new Tollway. Meanwhile, local tolling authorities in Central Florida have passed resolutions objecting to it.
Supporters have said the metro region needed a centrally coordinated tolling agency, and Gov. Rick Scott's Department of Transportation has also been pushing the consolidation.
"We're going to give him every opportunity to pass it," Gardiner said.