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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Storms' PTC bill survives but is watered down

14

December

A bill to abolish the agency that regulates cars for hire in Hillsborough County -- such as cabs and limos -- survived a vote by the legislative delegation Tuesday but was substantially watered down in a way that will make it difficult to achieve its goal.

Sen. Ronda Storms was seeking to abolish the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission, the subject of recurring controversies, and turn over its duties to the Hillsborough County Commission. But the bill faced opposition from the county, concerned with being handed a new responsibility, as well as some members of the delegation.

So Storms twice amended her bill during the legislative delegation's annual meeting to ultimately require the County Commission and its three cities to vote in favor or doing away with the PTC and turning its duties over to the county. That bill passed unanimously, meaning it advances at least for further legislative consideration.

"Is a quarter of a loaf better than no loaf at all?" Storms asked rhetorically after the debate.

Dozens of cab and limo drivers turned out for the meeting, most of them to express concerns with the way they are treated by the PTC. They described a regulatory system that allows monopolies, exorbitant permitting and lease fees that require them to work long hours for little pay, and enforcement of rules that borders on harassment. Storms said, if nothing else, her effort has drawn attention to their plight.

"To hear the people come out today and talk, I think it was very compelling," Storms said.

[Last modified: Tuesday, December 14, 2010 11:59am]

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