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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Attempt to stop local regulation of Uber passes first committee



Lawmakers are once again trying to pass statewide regulations for companies like Uber, and in the process, they want to stop local governments from making rules of their own.

After falling short in the final moments of last year’s legislative session, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, is pushing a bill (H.B. 509) that would set minimum insurance and background check requirements for ride-booking companies that want to operate in Florida. It got its first endorsement of the next session Wednesday morning, passing on a 10-1 vote in the House Highway and Waterway Safety subcommittee.

The most controversial piece of the bill from last year remains: that local governments would lose their ability to regulate the companies as they do for taxis, limousines and public transportation.

“We don’t want a circumstance where someone who’s wanting to comply with the law and wanting provide a transportation network services inadvertently crosses a county or municipal line and becomes a criminal,” Gaetz said Wednesday morning. “You could have disparate insurance requirements, disparate registration requirements … Here we establish one statewide standard for public safety.”

But local governments say this flies in the face of their right to set rules inside their borders.

“It’s important for each county that has a commission that’s been elected to have the ability to deliberate and consider what is best for that community,” said Eric Poole, a lobbyist with the Florida Association of Counties.

The Florida League of Cities and both Broward and Miami-Dade counties spoke out against the bill. Uber pulled out of Broward for several months this year after the county passed stiff regulations, and a bitter fight over regulations in Hillsborough County is still ongoing.

However, as session approaches, the Senate has not yet put forward proposed legislation.

Last year, the chamber passed insurance requirements but did not include the language that would preempt local governments.

[Last modified: Wednesday, December 2, 2015 10:14am]


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