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Jeff Brandes says he’s had enough, and will propose legislation to kill the Hillsborough County PTC

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Jeff Brandes says he’s mad as hell, and doesn’t want to take it anymore.

The St. Petersburg-based Republican state senator wrote on his Facebook page on Thursday that he will propose legislation next year that will attempt to eliminate the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission.

His statement comes a day after the controversial agency announced that despite the fact that a Hillsborough judge had denied its request for a preliminary injunction against Uber last week, it would continue to write tickets citing Uber and Lyft drivers in Hillsborough County.

“This is a perfect example of government run amok,” Brandes wrote. “Enough is enough. I’m drafting sweeping legislation to reform the PTC. It’s time our leaders stood up on behalf of our residents, tourists, and businesses to make sure Tampa Bay has the most robust network of transportation options available.”

This won’t be the first time that Brandes has attempted to kill the PTC, which regulates taxis, limos and ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft.

In December of 2013, Brandes and fellow Hillsborough/Pinellas state Rep. Jamie Grant proposed such a bill initially at a meeting of the Hillsborough County legislative delegation, but it was rejected by the majority of the members.

Undaunted, the two went about trying to get legislation through the Legislature in 2014, to no success.

At the time, neither Uber nor Lyft was actually operating in the area. The only experiences Tampa Bay riders had with the service was during the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa. But Uber Black, its black car service, said the PTC’s minimum $50 fare was prohibitive and prevented it from operating in the market.

So while the two Tampa Bay area Republicans were attempting to pass legislation that year (unsuccessfully), both Uber and Lyft opted on their own to begin operations in Hillsborough County in April of 2014, later spreading their services throughout the Bay area (and in other major cities across the state).

Attempts this past year in the Legislature in Tallahassee to come up with a bill regulating Uber and Lyft also failed.

Meanwhile, the PTC, which was created by a special act by the Legislature and thus can be eliminated by Tallahassee, continues to battle the ridesharing companies when it comes to regulations regarding background checks for drivers, their insurance policies, and getting vehicles inspections.

On Wednesday as a PTC meeting was taking place,  approximately 20 Uber drivers protested in front of the County Center, demanding that Hillsborough County officials let the ride-share company operate in the open.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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