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Legislation forcing Tampa-area commission to leave Uber alone advances in House


Florida House members from Hillsborough County are moving forward with a proposal to stop the county's Public Transportation Commission from banning or regulating ridesharing apps like Uber as if they were taxicab companies.

The bill (HB 1439), which was unanimously approved Monday by the House Local Government Affairs Subcommittee, would apply insurance and background check requirements for ridesharing drivers. Most significantly, it would force an end to legal battles between the commission and Uber.

House Majority Leader Dana Young, R-Tampa, and Rep. Dan Raulerson, R-Plant City, sponsored the bill. 

It's similar to a bill (HB 509) that passed last week, applying insurance and background check rules across the state and banning any local government from blocking Uber. There is no Senate version of the legislation.

"Basically it's what we voted on last week but with a little local piece," Young said.

Tampa has been one of the epicenters of conflict between Uber and local governments. It's also the only county with a public transportation commission. Last year, the commission, tried to ban Uber and ticketed drivers. The commission also filed a lawsuit, asking a judge to intervene and block Uber.

Because the Public Transportation Commission is governed by state law, the Legislature can step in to change its rules. Young and Raulerson's bill was approved by the Hillsborough Legislative Delegation in December, although three Tampa Democrats -- Sen. Arthenia Joyner and Reps. Janet Cruz and Ed Narain -- voted against it. There are no Hillsborough County lawmakers on the Local Government Affairs Subcommittee.

The commission supports the bill, Executive Director Kyle Cockream said.

"Generally, the Commission is in favor of allowing both taxi cabs and transportation network companies to operate evenly, while making sure that the insurance provided covers both the riding public and the drivers," he said in a statement, adding that "the Commission continues to support a statewide resolution to the insurance issue, and sees that as a priority."