Members of the West Florida Livery Association voice their opposition in Tallahassee over a proposed bill that would deregulate the industry opening the door for Uber. (L to R): Dave Shaw, Dennis Rochford, Gus Shahin, Jerry Chavez, Justin Nystedt, Blaze Basevic, Jeremy Jenkins, Dewey Buxton.
[UPDATED 4/2, 5:30 p.m. w/new photo]
If you Google “Uber Florida” the top result that pops up is a paid ad by Uber that directs Floridians to a petition that calls for support of legislation that would allow the mobile-app company to operate throughout the state. Currently, Uber can only operate in Jacksonville. The company was kicked out of Miami, and has faced resistance in other Sunshine State cities. However, Uber is flexing its muscle — and money — behind legislation that could allow its service to operate state wide.
URGENT: Important Link To Florida Limousine Association Petition Here
Two companion bills in the state House and Senate are basically rewriting the book on how the limousine industry is currently regulated in the state. If approved, the state would become the regulatory authority superseding current county and local authorities that regulate private transportation services.
“Basically the bill deregulates local jurisdiction from regulating our industry,” said Dave Shaw (Olympus Limousine), president of the West Florida Livery Association (WFLA), and board member of the National Limousine Association.
Shaw said the proposed bill waters down stricter local regulations regarding licensing, vehicle safety and inspections to “just allow basically any four-door sedan that is five years of age or less” to operate as a livery vehicle.” The bill, often referred to as the “Uber Bill” in Tallahassee, the state capital is currently in various committee hearings, where members of the WFLA, Florida Limousine Association (FLA), and Greater Orlando Limousine Association (GOLA), have sent representatives to collectively voice their disproval of the bill and its detrimental effects on the industry.
“We may not mind the state taking over regulatory authority, but the way the bill is written now, it is poorly written and nobody knows how much it will costs us in fees who will be charged with enforcement,” Shaw added.
— By Tom Halligan, LCT East Coast Editor