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Friday, Nov 21, 2014

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State may adopt local law helping disabled pump gas

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Two Tampa Bay lawmakers want to make state law from a Hillsborough ordinance that requires placing phone numbers on gas pumps for people with disabilities to call if they need help filling their vehicle tanks.

State Rep. Mark Danish, D-Tampa, and state Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg are sponsoring bills directing the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to confirm — during normal inspections — that a decal with the number is placed on each pump at self-service gas stations.

The decal must be blue, at least 15 square inches, contain the international symbol of accessibility, the words “Call for Assistance,” and a phone number for the station.

The bills are based on a Hillsborough County ordinance that inspired similar ordinances in several other counties.

“This is a cost effective option that will assist countless persons with disabilities across the state who struggle to refuel their gas,” Danish said.

The bills, HB 185 and SB 1184, have been supported by organizations including the Florida Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, Paralyzed Veterans Association, Disabled American Veterans and AARP. Thursday, HB 185 passed its final committee stop in the House Regulatory Affairs Committee.

“The new ordinance fills in a big gap in the federal law,” Hillsborough County Commissioner told the Tribune in 2012, after the local ordinance took effect.

Though federal law requires stations with two or more attendants to pump gas for handicapped motorists, the law does not specify how stations should comply. Some have call buttons. But those are often placed so high that someone in a wheelchair can’t reach them, Murman said.

Some stations do nothing at all, she said, and handicapped drivers are often forced to resort to “honking, waiving their handicapped cards trying to get attention.”

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