State Rep. Matt Gaetz on Wednesday filed – then speedily withdrew – a bill that would reserve regulation of Uber and other hired-car services to the state.
According to House of Representatives records, Gaetz submitted his bill (HB 175) at 8:53 a.m., then withdrew it at 10:30 a.m.
Reached by phone, the Fort Walton Beach Republican said it was simply a false start. Related bills are in the pipeline to be filed in upcoming weeks. The 2016 Legislative Session starts in January.
“I was a little ahead of myself,” he said, adding that he had not gotten all the feedback on the bill from other members that he wanted.
He promised to file a Uber-related bill this year, but said “the mechanics of that bill may be a little different” than the one filed.
Gaetz, a proponent of “disruptive technologies,” filed a similar bill that failed during the 2015 session. That bill too would have taken away regulatory power over hired vehicles from cities and counties, known as preemption.
A Senate bill that also went nowhere dealt only with insurance, requiring different levels of coverage depending on whether an Uber driver is giving a ride or in the car waiting for one.
But Gaetz’s latest bill addressed many of the same insurance measures.
Uber and competitor Lyft, known as “transportation network companies,” have been operating in questionable legality throughout the state. They use mobile-phone applications, or apps, to summon and pay for rides.
The Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission, which regulates hired-car service there, has gone after Uber, including ticketing its drivers.
The commission and taxi and limo interests have said Uber should follow the same requirements for vehicle inspections, insurance coverage and driver background checks as taxis and other vehicles-for-hire.
The Hillsborough County Legislative Delegation will consider its own proposed “local bills” related to app-based car service at its meeting next week.
Uber in particular employed no less than 23 registered lobbyists to move legislation last session.