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Sparks fly with Tampa Bay GOP senators over Tom Lee’s call for Tampa International Airport audit

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Sparks flew on the floor of the Florida Senate Wednesday between Tampa Bay-area Republicans after Tom Lee stated that “potential public corruption” is taking place at Tampa International Airport. The Brandon Republican then proposed inserting an amendment to the Senate budget calling for the Auditor General to review spending at the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, which is currently in the midst of a billion-dollar-plus master plan renovation. “There have been allegations of gross representation,” Lee told Dana Young of Tampa (as well as the…

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The case against Rick Baker running for St. Petersburg mayor

in The Bay and the 'Burg by

As coy as he has been with the local media and as busy as he is promoting the Rowdies referendum, Rick Baker is almost certain to run for St. Petersburg mayor this year. Last week, Baker was in Tallahassee for a series of not-exactly-clandestine meetings with top Republican donors like Brian Ballard and Nick Iarossi. Baker’s biggest cheerleader in the capital, state Sen. Jeff Brandes, set up the meetings. Baker does not particularly enjoy fundraising; At least not as much…

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Bill to regulate Uber, Lyft headed to Senate floor

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A bill that would create a regulatory framework for transportation network companies in Florida cleared the Senate Rules Committee, teeing it up for a vote in the full Senate within the coming days. Sponsored by Sen. Jeff Brandes, the bill (SB 340) would require Uber and Lyft to carry $100,000 of insurance for bodily injury or death and $25,000 for property damage while a driver is logged onto their app but hasn’t secured a passenger. While a rider is in…

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Tampa Bay Partnership hails House passage of ride-sharing bill

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Heading into the 2017 Legislative Session, the Tampa Bay Partnership listed the creation of a regional transit agency connecting four Tampa Bay-area counties as its top priority. Another priority was the desire to see a bill passed regulating ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft. It’s closer to achieving success on the latter, with the Florida House voting unanimously Wednesday for a bill sponsored by Republicans Chris Sprowls and Jamie Grant. “Ride-sharing is an integral component of a multi-modal regional transportation system and a cost-effective, private…

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Ride-sharing legislation speeds ahead in Florida House

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A bill that would create the first statewide law regulating ride-sharing companies passed unanimously in the Florida House on Wednesday, 115-0. Now it moves to the Senate. It’s the second straight year that such a bill has passed in the Florida House, but the chances of it getting through the Senate are considered much greater than in 2016. The legislation, sponsored by Palm Harbor Republican Chris Sprowls and Tampa Republican Jamie Grant (HB 221) requires ride-sharing companies to have third-parties conduct local and national criminal…

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House gets one step closer to passing statewide regs on Uber, Lyft

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Legislation to regulate transportation network companies (TNC) in Florida advanced Tuesday on its second reading through the Florida House. The bill sponsored by Palm Harbor Republican Chris Sprowls and Tampa Republican Jamie Grant (HB 221) requires ride-sharing companies to have third-parties conduct local and national criminal background checks on drivers. “That includes a multistage, multi-jurisdictional background check, a search of the National Sex Offender website, and a review of the public driving history of the applicant,” Sprowls said on the House floor. Although…

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House, Senate move in different directions on building code reform

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Bills to change the way the Florida Building Code is updated continue to move through the Legislature, but the House and Senate now appear to be taking a different approach to reforming the system. The House Careers & Competition Subcommittee voted unanimously last week to approve legislation (HB 901) that would keep international and national building codes as the baseline for the Florida Building Codes, but would require the Florida Building Commission to update the code every five years instead…

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