Florida bill aimed at Uber, Lyft heads to Senate floor

A measure that would enact statewide regulations on app-based ridesharing companies, such as Uber and Lyft — and override local regulations — is heading to the Senate floor.The Rules Committee voted 10-1 to advance the “transportation network companies”...

Florida bill aimed at Uber, Lyft heads to Senate floor

A measure that would enact statewide regulations on app-based ridesharing companies, such as Uber and Lyft — and override local regulations — is heading to the Senate floor.The Rules Committee voted 10-1 to advance the “transportation network companies”...

07 April 2017 Friday 01:37
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Florida bill aimed at Uber, Lyft heads to Senate floor

A measure that would enact statewide regulations on app-based ridesharing companies, such as Uber and Lyft — and override local regulations — is heading to the Senate floor.

The Rules Committee voted 10-1 to advance the “transportation network companies” measure (SB 340) Thursday, a day after the House voted 115-0 to approve a similar measure (HB 221).

The issue has been contentious during the past several years, pitting the growing transportation network companies against taxi companies and local governments, which prefer to set their own requirements for such transportation services.

Orlando has issued 290 permits to livery operators since regulations aimed at Uber and Lyft drivers took effect in February 2015, a city spokeswoman said. Among the requirements is a $250 vehicle fee, which was lowered from $500 and also applied to taxi companies. And 305 tickets have been issued, the spokeswoman said; an Uber manager said when the rule took effect that it would reimburse its drivers for any fines incurred from such citations.

Orlando, at that time, had backed away from a proposal to require minimum fares of $3 per mile, setting that price at $2.40.

In voting for the state bill Thursday, Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, said the measure may need to give the Department of Financial Services “some actual teeth” to enforce the proposed regulations. Also, Lee said the proposal appears to allow public facilities, such as airports or seaports, to lock out some firms through exclusivity deals.

Bill sponsor Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, said he doesn’t read his bill the same way.

“I think our goal, with at least a seaport or airport, is to allow them to charge reasonable pickup fees,” Brandes said. “If they charge a fee for a taxicab, that fee would also be for a TNC (transportation network company).”

The bill would prohibit local government agencies from imposing taxes or requiring licenses for transportation network companies and drivers. But it doesn’t “prohibit an airport from charging reasonable pickup fees consistent with any pickup fees charged to taxicab companies,” according to a staff analysis. Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, cast the lone vote against the bill in the Senate committee.

Similar proposals have stalled in recent years in the Senate. But the leadership of the Senate changed in November, with Stuart Republican Joe Negron replacing Orlando Republican Andy Gardiner as president, and a number of House members who backed the app-based services in past years won election to the Senate.

News Service of Florida and Sentinel staff contributed.

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