Gov. Rick Scott signs Expressway Authority Bill

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill Friday to create the new regional Expressway Authority, which means the sitting board is now officially dissolved.

The new bill eliminates the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority and will create a larger board with nine representatives, including some from Orange, Lake and Seminole counties.

The new board will be known as the Central Florida Expressway, Scott said, adding that he will appoint three people to serve on the nine-member board.

"We're going to find good people who care about the regional focus of the Expressway Authority and are going to live up to the highest standards," said Scott.

In May, prosecutors released hundreds of pages of documents detailing their criminal case against recently suspended board member Scott Batterson, who Scott had appointed.

Scott knows the history behind the OOCEA and Batterson after Batterson was indicted on bribery and unlawful compensation charges. 

"When the one individual was indicted I immediately suspended him. We have to hold everybody accountable," Scott said.

Following Batterson, Scott appointed Marco Pena, who has since admitted to violating public meeting laws.

"I want to thank the state attorney for holding public officials accountable. It's the right thing to do," Scott said Friday.

According to Channel 9's Kathi Belich, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs is the only one who will remain on the board, and she will appoint a county commissioner to serve next week.

Jacobs said she's satisfied that the changes to the board will protect Orange County toll payers from being taken advantage of.

"The majority of the toll payers will be represented by elected officials.  That's why we have this governance structure," she said.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer will now join the new board, as well as Osceola County Commission Chairman Fred Hawkins.

At last check, Seminole and Lake county commissioners were still considering who among them will represent their counties on the toll agency.

Jacobs said she's hoping the governor will re-appoint Walter Ketcham, who was the board chairman until the bill was signed Friday.

The Central Florida Expressway will hold its first meeting next month.