One of the policy questions left unanswered when the House ended its regular session early last week is the role of state and local regulators over ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft.
Bills in the House and Senate would have forced the companies’ drivers to be insured with up to $1 million in liability coverage. But a key difference between proposals in the two chambers has Uber anxious.
Now, Uber is turning to the public for support with a petition that as of Wednesday morning had more than 17,700 online signatures.
“As resident of Florida and a supporter of Uber, I urge you to finish what was started, and take up ridesharing in the upcoming special session,” the petition says.
The focus of a special session expected to be called by House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner is a massive budget impasse. But they can put any issues they want on the agenda.
The question for companies like Uber is whether the state Legislature will step in to block local authorities’ attempts to ban or regulate them.
Doing so would give the ridesharing companies unquestionable authority to exist in Florida, where they expect massive growth in the coming years. But the taxicab companies they compete with have called foul, saying Uber and Lyft are held to lower standards.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, has been a major proponent of ridesharing companies in the Capitol. He says that authorities like the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission shouldn’t be allowed to stifle Uber and Lyft’s growth.
He proposed a bill to preempt local regulators, but it — like so many other bills — died in the final days of session when House members weren’t in Tallahassee to hold session.