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Local / State

State Senator Renews Push For Rideshare Legislation

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Melies the Bunny, flickr

The debate over how to regulate ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft is returning to the Florida legislature. 

State Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) says having local governments come up with their own different rules for ridesharing companies is making it difficult for the industry to expand in Florida. He wants that to change.

"[A Ridesharing company] should have the same level of background checks statewide, the same level of insurance statewide and not have to worry about the county you're in," he said.

Brandes is drafting a bill that would let the state determine how ridesharing companies can operate.

“We're really just focused on making sure there's an appropriate amount of insurance, correct background checks, some screening that goes on that meets a high standard, and that it's regularly reviewed,” he said.

Taxi companies have opposed statewide rules. They're worried that they will be at a disadvantage if ridesharing companies are allowed to operate under lighter restrictions. Brandes says if his bill passes, he hopes it can influence rules for taxis as well.

Similar bills for have succeeded in past sessions in the House, but were blocked in the Senate.

Earlier this year, Uber blamed former Senate President Andy Gardiner, who has ties to an Orlando taxi company, for the opposition. Brandes says support from the new Senate President Joe Negron should make 2017 the year statewide regulation moves forward.