House, Senate Divided on Uber Regulations

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By: Matt Galka
April 23, 2015

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Drivers who work for ride sharing companies like Uber and Lyft would be required to carry a state-backed insurance policy and adhere to stricter background checks if state lawmakers get their way. The legislation is a part of a big fight between the upstart companies and traditional cab companies.

Innovation is squaring off with regulation at the Florida Capitol. Lawmakers are trying to set the rules for ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft, which allow people to turn their vehicles into pop-up taxis for money.

While almost any car on the road could be used as a ride sharing vehicle, lawmakers say the problems they need to fix start with the insurance card in your wallet.

Senator David Simmons' (R-Altamonte Springs) bill would require ride share drivers to carry minimum state regulated insurance policies regardless of whether they’re on the clock. Most policies don’t cover ride sharing.

“First things first, and that’s taking care of citizens in the state of Florida who may be injured as a result of an injury in an automobile in which there was ride sharing for which there’s absolutely no insurance coverage,” said Sen. Simmons.

The House has a similar proposal. But an amendment passed Thursday that will put potential drivers through a tougher Level II background check.

“Why would we not want to insure that every rider that gets in a rideshare company vehicle has some protection or at least the best protection that we can give them?” asked Rep. Kathleen Peters (R-St. Petersburg).

Taxi company lobbyist Ron Book says all of these decisions should be made city by city.

“They should be required to carry the same levels of insurance that taxi and limo companies are required to carry. We don’t believe there should be exceptions to a preemption,” he said.

The House’s version of the bill would preempt local regulations that have passed around Florida.

Uber is currently insured by an out of state company. The Senate’s bill would allow insurance claims to be paid out by the state if a driver’s insurance company went bankrupt. The House and Senate have 6 days to get their bills synced up if they hope to pass any regulation.

By: Mike Vasilinda
April 22, 2015

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Ride sharing services such as Uber or Lyft will face greater insurance requirements under legislation given tentative approval by the state Senate today.

The legislation requires the same insurance that taxi cabs are required to have but only when the car and driver are actively working. It also makes it a misdemeanor for the driver to ferry people without insurance when he is off the clock. Senator David Simmons calls it 'must-pass' legislation.

“This is totally uncharted territory and what we’re doing is writing the script right now. And what we are trying to do is make something that is fair and reasonable and assures that the people of the state of Florida are protected, because right now, they’re not,” says Simmons.

Under current law, passengers in so-called Transportation Networks like Uber are covered if they are hurt, but not drivers of other cars or pedestrians that might be hurt by the ride sharing drivers.

By: Chris Gros

March 25, 2015

Tallahassee, FL - The battle over Uber is starting to gear up in Tallahassee.

Wednesday night, city commissioners considered the following question. Should ride sharing apps, like Uber, face the same local regulations as taxis and limos?

"What needs to happen is Uber needs to follow the rules or the ordinances of the City of Tallahassee and Leon County is what they need to follow," said Yellow Cab Driver Apostle Willie-Whiting Jr.

Under current law, taxis and limo companies in Tallahassee are subject to regulations such as mandatory permits through the police department, drug tests and vehicle inspections.

Uber drivers aren't subject to those city regulations, and freely drive customers in and around Tallahassee.

"Uber is something new and when these laws were created decades ago that we're talking about they didn't even conceive of this technology or this business. Uber is not a taxi, it's not a limo and it really requires new regulations to speak to it," said Uber Florida General Manager Matthew Gore.

Unfortunately there won't be an answer soon. Commissioners tabled the discussion until late May. Until then, Uber says it will continue to negotiate new regulations that fit its business model.

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