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Uber wants ridesharing on the agenda during summertime Session

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The ridesharing app company Uber is appealing to the public for support in its effort to convince lawmakers to include legislation to regulate its industry in the call for a special session this summer.

“We need your help to make sure the Legislature doesn’t go home again without taking up ridesharing legislation during the special session,” the email to users and supporters reads. “This is your opportunity to tell Governor [Rick] Scott, House Speaker [Steve] Crisafulli and Senate President [Andy] Gardiner that you want the Uber you know and love to have a permanent home across Florida.”

The move comes as Gov. Scott today during a press availability said he is focusing narrowly on a continuation or “base” budget proposal that he will lay before the Legislature.

Besides saying flatly that any Senate-driven proposal to expand health care is “not going to happen,” the governor has not indicated exactly what will be on or off the table during the upcoming session, during which lawmakers will attempt to perform their constitutional duty to approve a budget before July 1.

The petition as of Tuesday evening had at least 1,700 signatures, according to James Rosica of the Tampa Tribune.

Uber’s appeal comes just as the state of Kansas under Gov. Sam Brownback was blamed by the company for its abrupt shuttering of its operations there following the enshrinement of legislation that would tighten background and insurance requirements for ridesharers to a point advocates considered untenable.

Brownback had vetoed the bill, but Uber waved off its hundreds of drivers around the state after the Kansas Senate overrode his veto 34-5

State Sen. Jeff Brandes, the Senate sponsor of the companion bill to state Rep. Matt Gaetz‘s controversial Uber legalization package, told Florida Politics before this session 2015 was the appropriate year for the rubber of cliché to meet the road when it comes to a state law that would start to move the so-called sharing economy out of its current legal limbo.

“For many people it was a brand new concept,” Brandes said in January. “A lot of folks didn’t know how to spell Uber last session, so we spent 2014 session introducing legislators to the issue, and they now understand the overriding concerns. Often these issues have to marinate for a few years before they make sense to folks. We think that now is the right time to bring this back up and that the battle lines are pretty clear.”

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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 [email protected]

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