Proposal would require ridesharing drivers to have business licenses

James Marshall
March 17, 2017

Earlier Tuesday, a House subcommittee approved legislation (HB 647) that would disband the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission, which in recent years feuded publicly with ridesharing companies. All eight cities represented by the schools coming to Buffalo for games Thursday and Saturday - they include Philadelphia and the college towns of Princeton, N.J.; Madison, Wis.; and Blacksburg, Va. - have Uber service, according to a company spokeswoman. It would also prevent individual communities from banning Uber and Lyft, as has happened in Hillsborough, Broward and other counties.

Thirty-eight other states have passed legislation governing Uber and Lyft but Connecticut's proposal contains an added element created to help the taxi industry compete against the app-based upstarts.

State Sen. Josh McKoon said he felt that the language of the bill could also affect all digital downloads and open the door to taxation on products and services bought from other apps. Thanks to Uber and Lyft, the onus to fix these systems and add capacity never really reached a fever pitch, which means that when Uber and Lyft were yanked away suddenly, especially right before a large-scale event, the existing transit solutions simply were not up to snuff.

But Sen. George Gainer, a Panama City Republican who was a longtime Bay County commissioner, questioned why Uber and Lyft would be regulated at the state level, while taxi companies would continue to be regulated locally.

Council Members Ann Kitchen and Ellen Troxclair have always been on opposite ends of the spectrum on ridesharing.

The two ride-hailing industry leaders followed through on a pre-election threat last May, shutting down their apps in Austin after voters sustained the ordinance they opposed. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) argued that transportation policy is a regional concern that supersedes local interests. Hancock and Kitchen sparred until he got that answer from her.

"They were not kicked out of the city", Kitchen said.

"This is yet another critical step in making sure Florida's rideshare drivers have adequate insurance coverage if an accident were to occur", said Property Casualty Insurers Association of America regional manager Logan McFaddin.

"It's still pretty easy". Uber and Lyft wanted to people to vote for Prop 1 which would have lifted the city's fingerprint requirement.

It's a small win, but after the past few weeks, Uber will probably take what it can get.

You might have heard there was a hiccup over the weekend with one or two ridesharing services.

The short term rental discussion is expected to happen Tuesday but no vote yet on any of this. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, received a joint hearing after committee chairman Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, noted their similarities.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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