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Lawmakers okay proposal clearing way for ridesharing in Tampa

With legislation that would block all local governments from banning ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft apparently stalled in the Florida Senate, lawmakers are pushing forward with a plan to do so in Hillsborough County alone.

HB 1439 by Rep. Dan Raulerson, R-Plant City, and Majority Leader Dana Young, R-Tampa, sets insurance and background check requirements and stops the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission from banning the companies. It cleared the House Economic Affairs Committee on Thursday by a 15-1 vote.

Some lawmakers have urged tougher background check rules, including Rep. Ed Narain, D-Tampa. But it’s that last point that’s most controversial.

“I do have an issue with this still preempting local control,” said Rep. Bobby Powell, D-Riviera Beach, “and I know it’s a controversial issue there.”

The PTC has been particularly tough against Uber, trying to regulate the company like it does taxicabs, filing a lawsuit to remove the company from the county and at one point ticketing drivers.

Tampa is one of several regions where flashpoints between regulators and ridesharing companies led Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, to file legislation allowing the companies to exist in all parts of the state, free from local government control.

The Raulerson/Young bill would put similar rules into effect statewide, addressing what Young said is an immediate concern in the county.

“If Rep. Gaetz’ statewide preemption bill would pass both houses and be signed into law by the governor, then this bill would have no impact,” she said.

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said the bill does not have a Senate sponsor. Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-Tampa, will shepherd the bill in the Senate if it passes the House, Young said.