Rideshare bill merits Scott veto | April 21, editorial
Bill gives consumers protection
This editorial grossly mischaracterizes the ridesharing legislation that passed the Florida Senate last week after four years of deliberation and debate. The bill replaces today's patchwork of inconsistent local rules — some of which were designed to protect entrenched industries from competition — with a clear statewide framework. It requires ridesharing companies to perform driver history and criminal records checks on driver applicants, outlines crimes that would disqualify someone from driving, and provides clear rules for insurance and consumer protection.
On Wednesday, I took an Uber trip from Miami to Palm Beach. The driver, Michael, told me that he sees Uber as a "godsend" that has allowed him to continue to pay his bills after a sudden job loss while being able to deal with the disposal of his late father's assets during the day. No one benefits when drivers like Michael are subject to three separate sets of local ridesharing rules on a single trip that happens to pass through three counties.
States wishing to remain competitive and ensure continued economic growth should tailor ridesharing regulations to the realities of the marketplace without closing off future innovation.
That's what 40 other U.S. states have done. Florida's leaders should be commended for following suit.
Colin Tooze, director of public affairs, Uber Technologies, Washington, D.C.
Financial Literacy Month
Personal finance education
April is Financial Literacy Month, when our country seeks to increase public awareness about the importance of sound personal financial management. A national organization known as C.A.R.E. — Credit Abuse Resistance Education — is particularly concerned with raising the money management intelligence of our older teenagers and young adults and their families.
C.A.R.E. recently raised its platform from a grass-roots initiative started by one bankruptcy judge in New York to a full-fledged nonprofit civic organization with nationwide volunteer outreach and online content, such as slide presentations and other materials. C.A.R.E. operates in all 50 states and is available in the Tampa Bay area.
Led by volunteers who are members or affiliates of the Tampa Bay Bankruptcy Bar Association, C.A.R.E. presentations have been occurring here since 2007. Our most recent presentation occurred in Tampa at the Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate High School, to about 250 students. Our volunteers are ready to help middle and high school students, civic or other community associations, and other groups understand how to make smart financial decisions on budgeting, credit and student loans. The presentation content complies with the national standards in K-12 personal finance education, and each module takes 45 minutes to present.
Having seen a C.A.R.E. presentation at her school, one high school senior observed, "It seems like what we thought we knew about credit going into the presentation was all misleading information that we just got from ads and the Internet. I think it influenced everyone's future decisions about credit.''
Local C.A.R.E. ambassadors will provide a presentation for any organization's members, young or old. The presentations are free, and we won't try to sell you a thing. We want you to hold on to your money! Go to this website to request a visit: https://care4yourfuture.org/educators (scroll all the way down to "Request Now").
Catherine Peek McEwen, Tampa
The writer is a bankruptcy judge in Tampa and is a member of the C.A.R.E. board of directors.
Illegal immigration pitfalls | April 21, letter
Immigrant crime rate low
The National Bureau of Economic Research has documented low rates of involvement in criminal activities by immigrants. Undocumented immigrants over many years are less likely to commit crimes than people born in the United States.
With that in mind, why would the Times publish this letter emphasizing "gang violence, drug smuggling, murder and rape" by immigrants?
Florence Laureira, Hudson
Light rail won't work here
It's true that rail transportation is needed in large cities where many residents live in high-rise apartments within walking distance to a rail station. Also, these areas have very little parking available for cars and trucks. This is not true in the Tampa Bay area, where we mostly live in homes or condos and if we had light rail, it would be necessary to drive to the rail station, defeating the purpose of getting cars and trucks off the roads. Further, we have adequate parking available.
Driving is much better now with some road work already completed, and plans are already on the board to improve traffic infrastructure. The residents on both sides of the bay have already said no to light rail, and this should put an end to this subject. Light rail is being pushed by greedy business owners in downtown St. Petersburg, like the owners of sports teams.
Many Tampa Bay residents are winter visitors and seniors who will not give up their cars, nor will they drive to a rail station to take light rail to a destination nearby.
Chuck Graham, Pinellas Park
Negative effects persist
As a native Floridian who grew up on Boca Ciega Bay, I have always kept an eye on this body of water. I recall the endless jumping of mullet as a kid, seeing plenty of blue crabs, and an abundance of trout, snook and redfish. I went fishing recently in my usual spot and it was immediately apparent that our beloved bay is sick. The bottom (and seaweed) was covered with silt and muck, and no fish were jumping.
I believe the sewage dump from last summer is still having an effect on our bay that may have negative ramifications for years to come. We're watching you, city of St. Petersburg (and surrounding cities), to make sure this never happens again.
Brett Hayman, St. Petersburg