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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Bill to allow free parking for disabled vets at airports moves forward



Legislation requiring Florida airports to give disabled military veterans free parking flew through it’s final committee in the Florida House on Thursday and is lined up to be one of the first bills to pass the House when the Legislature’s next session begins on Jan. 12.

On Thursday the House Economic Affairs Committee became the latest committee to give the bill the green light, passing the proposal unanimously. A Senate version also cleared its second of three committee stops earlier this week and has just one stop left before it would head to the floor of the Senate.

The two bills aim to fix a gap in another law created in July that was supposed to give veterans with a special disabled license plate free parking in lots run by a county, city or "any agency thereof." But some airports said the law did not apply to them because they are technically authorities. 

“Some airports were doing it, but we found that they were doing it only if they had specialized lifts or ramps,” State Rep. Ken Roberson, R-Punta Gorda, said Thursday in explaining to his colleagues why the state needed to pass another law on the topic. “This rectifies that.”

Some airports are already changing their policy even before the new bill becomes law. After the Times/Herald reported that a disabled veteran from Sarasota County had been denied free parking at Tampa International Airport, that facility changed its policy and now allows all drivers with a disabled veterans license tag to have free parking.

Florida has about 41,000 veterans who have the special disabled veterans license plates, which require a driver to prove they considered 100 percent disabled by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and that they were honorably discharged.

The free parking could not be for more than a week and the disabled veteran has to be the driver of the vehicle, Roberson said.

[Last modified: Thursday, December 3, 2015 11:40am]


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