Sunday, November 19, 2017
Opinion

Column: Florida needs statewide rules for Uber and Lyft

RECOMMENDED READING


The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce supports a fair and open market. Our members support competition, and it should be expected for a strong economy. Business should and can thrive in a community that has one set of rules that are applied to the entire industry and not just a fraction of that industry or market.

This is why the chamber supports statewide regulation for ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft. To have fragmented and onerous regulations from one county to the next only creates confusion and lack of competition. In a state where so much of our economy is dependent on tourism and visitors, it is imperative that Florida have one set of rules that can be applied from Tallahassee to Miami and not 67 different sets of rules that change at the county line.

The recent regulations that have been implemented in Hillsborough County are not only creating more problems but are also reducing transportation options for many residents. This vote of the Public Transportation Commission last week sent a message that competition is not welcome here in Hillsborough County. It said that this community is not looking forward, and this is not acceptable to the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. There are several efforts in Hillsborough County focused on innovation and "disruptive" technology. There is a goal to have smart, innovative minds here to have a leading edge economy. Any action blocking innovative technology like ridesharing systems sends a message that innovation is not welcome here.

There is a way to improve options while still protecting the safety of Floridians. A safe and competitively priced ride system should be a priority. Keeping Floridians safe is an important responsibility and one that should not be taken lightly. However, this should not be done at the expense of convenience or the ability to get around.

The chamber urges the Hillsborough County Legislative Delegation to act swiftly and decisively in the upcoming session. The 2017 Legislative Session must be the year to pass a statewide law to regulate transportation networking companies in a fair, safe and reasonable way. Anything short of this is dismissing Floridians who have grown to depend on these companies for transportation needs.

In a community where transportation options are limited and our local elected officials have done nothing to improve these options, it is vital that our state Legislature act as soon as possible to help keep people moving in Florida. Removing one more option from the list of possibilities not only hurts the people who use the services, but the businesses that call our community home. What business is going to want to locate in a community where their employees have limited options to get to work?

Many legislators in the community have spoken up and have said that they believe now is the time to act and they are committed to doing something by passing legislation during the next session. The chamber applauds the members of the Florida House and Senate who have promised to do something. We will stand in support with them in Tallahassee. We call on the members of both the Senate and the House to work together to create a uniform, equal playing field for Florida and ridesharing options. We ask the governor's office to make this a priority in his agenda. The chamber will continue to work and support efforts to make a change for the better.

To our legislators, now is the time to act. We look forward to working with you on a solution for all of Florida.

Bob Rohrlack is president and CEO of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.

Comments

Editorial: Good for Tampa council member Frank Reddick to appeal for community help to solve Seminole Heights killings

As the sole black member of the Tampa City Council, Frank Reddick was moved Thursday to make a special appeal for help in solving four recent murders in the racially mixed neighborhood of Southeast Seminole Heights. "I’m pleading to my brothers. You ...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: It’s time to renew community’s commitment to Tampa Theatre

Editorial: It’s time to renew community’s commitment to Tampa Theatre

New attention to downtown Tampa as a place to live, work and play is transforming the area at a dizzying pace. Credit goes to recent projects, both public and private, such as the Tampa River Walk, new residential towers, a University of South Florid...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

The Rays definitely like Ybor City, and Ybor City seems to like the Rays. So what could possibly come between this match made in baseball stadium heaven? Hundreds (and hundreds and hundreds) of millions of dollars. Rays owner Stu Sternberg told Times...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Editorial: Wage hike for contractors’ labor misguided

Editorial: Wage hike for contractors’ labor misguided

St. Petersburg City Council members are poised to raise the minimum wage for contractors who do business with the city, a well-intended but misguided ordinance that should be reconsidered. The hourly minimum wage undoubtedly needs to rise — for every...
Published: 11/16/17

Editorial: Make workplaces welcoming, not just free of harassment

A federal trial began last week in the sex discrimination case that a former firefighter lodged against the city of Tampa. Tanja Vidovic describes a locker-room culture at Tampa Fire Rescue that created a two-tier system — one for men, another for wo...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Editorial: Firing a critic of his handling of the sewer crisis is a bad early step in Kriseman’s new term

Editorial: Firing a critic of his handling of the sewer crisis is a bad early step in Kriseman’s new term

Barely a week after St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman promised to unite the city following a bitter and divisive campaign, his administration has fired an employee who dared to criticize him. It seems Kriseman’s own mantra of "moving St. Pete forwar...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/16/17
Editorial: USF’s billion-dollar moment

Editorial: USF’s billion-dollar moment

The University of South Florida recently surpassed its $1 billion fundraising goal, continuing a current trend of exceeding expectations. At 61 years old — barely middle age among higher education institutions — USF has grown up quickly. It now boast...
Published: 11/14/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Editorial: Vets should not have to wait years for benefits

Editorial: Vets should not have to wait years for benefits

American military members hurt in service to their country should not have to wait a lifetime for the benefits they deserve. But that’s a reality of the disability process at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which hasn’t made payi...
Published: 11/14/17

Editorial: Deputies’ rescue reflects best in law enforcement

The bravery two Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies showed a week ago is a credit to them and reflects the professionalism of the office.Deputies Benjamin Thompson and Trent Migues responded at dusk Nov. 11 after 82-year-old Leona Evans of Webster...
Published: 11/13/17
Updated: 11/17/17

Another voice: An untrustworthy deal with Russia

President Donald Trump’s latest defense of Russian leader Vladimir Putin included — along with a bow to his denials of meddling in the U.S. election — an appeal to pragmatism. "Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing,"...
Published: 11/13/17
Updated: 11/14/17