Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Florida Bill Could Allow State to Thwart Local Anti-Uber Ordinances


A bill has been proposed to the Florida Legislature that would transfer the authority to regulate chauffeured limousine services from local governments to the Florida state government. Sponsored by state Senator Jeff Brandes and state Representative Jamie Grant, the regulatory shifts proposed by SB 1618 would apply to traditional limousine companies, but would also include shifting the authority to regulate vehicles associated with digital dispatch companies like Uber, Sidecar and Lyft, which have thus far been prevented from operating in Florida’s biggest transportation markets, with the single exception of Jacksonville.

That could all change if this bill passes, with Uber’s sights on Miami, Tampa, Orlando and other markets, and with state regulators being potentially more sympathetic to the interests of digital transportation companies than Florida’s local governments have been in recent history. U.S. Senator from Florida Marco Rubio, for instance, plans to visit Uber’s Washington, D.C. office next week, while local regulators have been committed to thwarting Uber’s every effort to enter Florida markets over the past few years.

In January the Miami-Dade County Commission blocked an attempt to undo several restrictions against Uber and other digital transportation services, namely the county’s cap on the number of limousine licenses it is able to issue, as well as its $70 minimum fare and mandatory one-hour wait time between reservation and ride. Other major counties in Florida have enacted similar measures to prevent rogue app companies from entering the market.

Hearings will be held next week at the Florida State Capitol. Click for more information on Senate Bill 1618.

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