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Uber delivers to Andy Gardiner thousands of pro-ridesharing petition signatures

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

A representative for Uber personally delivered what he said was 32,588 petitions to Senate President Andy Gardiner on Thursday morning, continuing the intensifying fight between Senate leadership and the ride-hailing industry over insurance regulations and the preemption of local ordinances.

The two parties are locked in a heated debated over whether the Senate should vote on a House-approved pro-“ridesharing” plan sponsored by Sen. Jeff Brandes, or whether to take up a more modest bill that would settle outstanding sticking points on insurance crafted by Senate Rules Chair David Simmons. Uber favors the former, while the latter appears more likely at this stage.

Simmons represents the Orlando area as does Gardiner, who has ties to the traditional taxi and limousine firm Mears Transportation. Pro-Uber critics of the Senate have made much of that fact in recent days.

As he delivered the three-feet-high pile of signatures, Uber’s Director of Public Affairs for the Southeast Colin Tooze said the signatures gathered from Uber riders and drivers across the state shows the public is behind their cause.

The show of support is in addition to the will of the Florida House, who passed the bill 108-10 with bipartisan support, said Tooze.

Tooze added major stakeholder groups like The Florida Chamber of Commerce, Associated Industries of Florida, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and several Florida mayors have also voiced their support for what he called “comprehensive ridesharing legislation.”

“All they’re asking for is one simple thing – for a vote on ridesharing in the state Senate.

“On Monday Senate President Gardiner said the best advice he ever got was not to fear the debate,” said Tooze. “That’s all that the 32,588 Floridians who signed this petition… are asking for.”

Uber continued to add a pointed personal bent to their argument with Gardiner, creating a hashtag – #DontFearTheDebate – and urging supporters to tweet at senators appending the tag. The firm says thousands of people have done so in the last day.

“It’s time for the voices of the people of Florida to be heard and it’s time for a vote on ridesharing in the Florida Senate today,” concluded Tooze.

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to FloridaPolitics.com and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at ryan@floridapolitics.com.

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