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Hillsborough County PTC may be on way out after local delegation approves bill to kill it

The troubled Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission received a terminal diagnosis Friday after members of the Hillsborough County Legislative Delegation voted unanimously for a local bill that would eliminate the agency on December 31, 2017.

After that, the County Commission would pick up its regulatory duties.

“The public has lost complete faith in the ability of this agency to regulate credibly, equitably and efficiently,” said bill sponsor James Grant said before the entire delegation vote in support of his bill.

The proposal was similar to a previous bill Grant brought to the local delegation in 2013 that sought to put a stake through the heart of the agency, but with a significant difference.

The local bill approved on Friday gives the county and the PTC a full year to contend with the transition.

“It’s not about moving fast. We want to make sure we avoid any unintended consequences,” Grant said. That was in notable contrast to the 2013 version, which would have killed the agency immediately, making it a bridge too far for other legislators to support, even with noted PTC critics like Dana Young

“I think the plan is to subcontract the regulation out to Uber, isn’t it?” asked Brandon Senator Tom Lee, eliciting the largest round of laughter of the morning.

Although meant for humorous effect, there’s no question that the addition of Uber and Lyft into the county ultimately was the beginning of the end for the PTC, which was already burdened with a toxic reputation well before the emergence of ride-sharing in Hillsborough County.

Among the previous lowlights that had saddled the PTC came in 2010, when Cesar Padilla, then the executive director of the agency, resigned after it was reported that he had been moonlighting as a security guard.

There was also the case of former County Commissioner Kevin White, was busted in 2008 for taking bribes for helping tow company operators to get permits in his role as PTC chair. White ended up serving three years at the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta.

The PTC caught the attention of lawmakers like Grant and Jeff Brandes after the PTC went after Uber when it introduced its Uber Black limo service during the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa. The PTC shut that effort down quickly.

Those lawmakers became incredibly irritated with the PTC and its (now former) chairman Victor Crist over the past few years, as Uber and Lyft refused to comply with PTC regulations. That led to PTC agents citing those drivers, leading to court actions and more than two years of fighting before an agreement bringing both companies into compliance occurred last month.

At Friday’s meeting, County Commission Chairman Stacy White said, “the county stands prepared to take over regulation of this industry and create a meaningful regulatory framework.”

“I think that those types of things would be able to be implemented by the county with relative ease,” White said. “We do stand prepared to create a lean, regulatory framework.”

The PTC has been funded by fees paid by the taxicab and limousine companies, not directly by taxpayers. Plant City Republican Representative Dan Raulerson asked White if the county would continue to fund their regulatory efforts in the same fashion.

“We certainly do have the ability to charge various permitting fees to offset the costs of the regulatory process,” White said.

“It seems like a good move in broadening out transportation options,” added recently elected Commissioner Pat Kemp.  

“I support it, and I realize that there are 66 other counties in the state of Florida that have figured out how to do this,” said Tea Party activist Sharon Calvert. “Let’s get it done.”

Mitch Perry Report for 11.10.16 — The ‘What do we now?’ moment for the president-elect

As Donald Trump publicly laid low and dealt with officials about how the transition of his administration will begin, I couldn’t help but recall that often-referred-to famous final scene from the 1972 Michael Ritchie film, “The Candidate” starring Robert Redford.

Bill McKay, the novice (played by Redford) who has just won an improbable victory for the U.S. Senate, turns dazedly to his campaign manager and asks, “What do we do now?”

What will the 45th POTUS do? No doubt the Affordable Care Act will be repealed, but what takes its place? Since policy was never emphasized during this campaign, I’m not sure too many of us (especially those of us on the ACA) are aware what that will be, presumably conceived by House and Senate leaders.

Border security will no doubt be emphasized with the building of a wall along the Mexican border. Trump also has talked about tripling the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and seeks to create a “special deportation task force”. Although Kellyanne Conway says that task force will first focus on “the most dangerous criminal illegal immigrants,” Trump has made clear any undocumented migrants could be affected.

He has talked tough when it comes to guns and criminal justice reform. That could include turning back the Obama administration’s efforts to address mass incarceration. And what about the bipartisan effort in Capitol Hill on criminal justice reform? Again, details are needed.

And what about foreign policy, specifically Syria, the No. 1 burning problem in the world. Going back to when I first encountered the 15 (at the time) Republicans running for president who met in Nashua, New Hampshire in 2015, the overwhelming criticism was about Barack Obama‘s foreign policy. Hearing their criticism, I wondered, frankly, how would they handle some of the world’s most vexing problems? Does anyone really know the agenda from the man who said he “knows more than the generals” about combating ISIS, for example. “Take their oil” and “bombing the sh*t out of them” is going to have to be fleshed out a little more, one would think.

Trump has said contradictory things about NATO. That may be predicated on the first Trump-Vladimir Putin sit-down. After months of speculation about what type of relationship they might have, we’ll find out soon enough what Trump is willing to allow Putin to get away with — which may not bother too many Americans, but will freak out some of our allies overseas.

There’s roughly 100 days left before the president-elect becomes the president. And hopefully we’ll have a clearer idea of what lies ahead of us over the next four years.

In other news …

Uber and Lyft are finally street legal in Hillsborough County, though of course, not without controversy.

The PTC’s executive director, chairman and a board member with the agency all announced their departure on Wednesday.

The one bright spot for Hillsborough Democrats was Andrew Warren’s narrow victory as state attorney.

Marco Rubio defined Donald Trump’s upset victory as a “rejection of business-as-usual” in D.C. politics.

Tampa City Council members are pleased the charter amendment that will allow them to request internal audits was overwhelmingly approved by the voters.

Mitch Perry Report for 11.8.16 — Getting the results before the polls close

The last presidential contest I really didn’t pay that much attention to was back in 1980, but I do remember this: I was in high school, and I had the TV on but the sound down when Jimmy Carter came out at around 6:15 PST to announce he was conceding the election. It was pretty early in the evening, but it was obvious Carter wasn’t going to catch up to Ronald Reagan that night.

Although Carter wanted to get the misery over with, his early concession speech angered people in California on the West Coast, where there were still hours before the polls closed. Every election since then (except for those that went into overtime), have not been declared by the networks and the Associated Press until 11 p.m. Eastern, when all the polls are closed.

That is supposed to change tonight.

As reported by POLITICO on Monday, “Slate and Vice News have partnered with Votecastr, a company helmed by Obama and Bush campaign veterans, to provide real-time projections of how the candidates are faring in each state throughout the day. They expect to begin posting projections at 8 a.m. Eastern time on Election Day — a dramatic departure from current practice, where representatives from a consortium of news organizations (The Associated Press, ABC News, CBS News, CNN, Fox News, and NBC News) huddle in a quarantine room without cell phones, poring over the earliest exit poll data but declining to release anything that points to an election result until all the polls have closed.”

POLITICO also will be working with Morning Consult to conduct a survey of voters after they have cast ballots. Voters will complete the interviews over the internet, beginning one hour after the polls open in their state. Respondents will be asked whether they have voted, and how they voted: either using early voting, by mail or on Election Day in person. POLITICO and Morning Consult will report on some of the results during the day.

I don’t know what any of this means, but let’s face it: in recent elections, people sit around most of the day on Election Day, with nothing to do with polls being meaningless (“the only poll that matters is on Election Day”) but no returns to review until the early evening.

There is some of that infamous exit poll research the networks will start reporting on after 5 p.m. but we all learned after 2004 not to take them too seriously, right, President Kerry?

Personally, I’ll be interested in some House races in Hillsborough County which could go either way — in House Districts 59, 60, and 63.

Have a great day.

In other news …

HART CFO Jeff Seward is going to the International Climate Change Conference in the U.K. next spring, the first representative from a North American transit agency to be invited to the annual event.

On the eve of a Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission meeting on a temporary agreement with Uber and Lyft, a limousine company based in Tampa says they want to become a ridesharing company as well, and is going to court to challenge the agency.

Marco Rubio made a last-day campaign appearance in Brandon yesterday, where he said he thinks the increase in Latino voters in the early vote bodes well for his chances tonight.

Eric Seidel is thinking he can peel off some wayward Democrats in his bid to defeat Pat Frank in the Hillsborough County Clerk of the Courts race tonight.

In a Vice News interview last night, Debbie Wasserman Schultz said the Bernie Sanders campaign made her into a “bogeyman” for her role at the DNC.

 

Uber, Google develop app for Election Day rides

your-voting-place-uberElection Day is only days away, and Uber and Google have teamed up to help voters cast ballots.

As part of its ongoing campaign to boost the turnout among Uber users, the San Francisco-based ridesharing service has worked with Google on a special in-app feature available Nov. 8 that will help locate polling locations  — and quickly request a ride with a simple tap on the smartphone.

On Election Day, Uber users will see a reminder to get out and vote; the unique feature will let them enter the address where they are registered, helping to locate the appropriate polling sites by hitting the “Find Your Polling Place” button before requesting a ride.

uber-vote-nov-8New Uber users riding for the first time can enter the code VOTETODAY for $20 off. Unlike other Uber promotions, trips will be subject to standard charges, with no free or discounted rides for existing users on Election Day.

According to the Uber blog: “Given the important decision people around the country will make on Nov. 8, we wanted to make getting to and from your polling place easier than ever.”

Dana Young calls for FDLE investigation into Hillsborough County PTC

In the aftermath of published reports about questionable decisions made by Hillsborough County Public Transportation Executive Director Kyle Cockream over the past year, Tampa state Rep. Dana Young is calling for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to conduct an investigation into the agency.

“When the line is blurred between the regulator and the entities they regulate, the public cannot rely on impartiality in the government,” wrote Young in her letter to the FDLE. “The disturbing revelations of the relationship between the PTC, Mr. Cockream, and members of the taxi industry in Hillsborough County merit a full review to determine if ethical or legal boundaries have been violated.”

Among the revelations that came to light last week through a release of a large number of emails, was that Cockream coordinated with local taxicab and limousine firms to fine rideshare drivers. Members of those companies acted as would-be passengers and lured Uber and Lyft drivers to pick them up before PTC agents cited them. Officially, Uber and Lyft drivers have been operating out of compliance with the PTC since they began operating in the spring of 2014.

Cockream also traveled twice to appear before the Palm Beach County Commission in the past year when that government body discussed ridesharing. He appeared at the same time in both meetings with representatives from the taxicab and limousine industry. The PTC’s mission is to regulate taxicab, limousine, and now ridesharing operations in an even, fair fashion.

“The PTC has a sordid history marred by scandals of former board members and conflicts of interest with previous senior agency personnel,” Young said in her letter. “The history of recurrent and pervasive improprieties by the PTC has resulted in multiple attempts by the Florida Legislature to repeal the regulatory body.”

The PTC was marred by a tawdry reputation for years long before Uber and Lyft ever came to Tampa. A former PTC board chairman — Kevin White — spent time in federal prison after being convicted in 2011 of accepting at least $6,000 in bribes from an undercover FBI agent posing as a businessman seeking to curry favor with him in his official role. Incidents like that led some local leaders like Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn to call for the agency to be dissolved. Those calls have been echoed by Tampa Bay area state legislators like Jeff Brandes and Jamie Grant in recent years, who have proposed bills to do that, though such efforts have come up short.

Young, a South Tampa Republican, is now running for the state Senate 18 district race against Democrat Bob Buesing and independent candidates Joe Redner and Sheldon Upthegrove.

Through a spokesman, Cockream is offering no comment.

Galvano

Bill Galvano backs statewide ride-sharing legislation

Senate Majority Leader Bill Galvano will push for ridesharing legislation, saying this week the state needs a “single, unified approach” to the new transportation sector.

In a guest editorial in The Bradenton Herald, Galvano said if Florida wants to continue to attract the next generation of innovators, the state “must solidify, through legislation and strategic partnerships, an ecosystem that supports companies defining their own path.”

The Bradenton Republican said in the past the state has chosen to “actively engage and help bring” innovators’ visions, like Walt Disney World and the Moffit Cancer Center, to fruition. Galvano said the state is now faced with another issue in the ridesharing arena.

“Last year alone, Uber, Lyft, and other ridesharing companies provided millions of trips for Florida residents and visitors. It is clear that Floridians enjoy these services and support their growth,” he wrote in the guest editorial. “However, in some Florida communities, small but powerful special interests are fighting innovation, choosing to create a path of obstacles rather than a strategic partnership with the state that fosters growth.”

Galvano pointed to Hillsborough County as an example of a community limiting growth, saying the Public Transportation Commission there will “soon consider increased local regulations that threaten consumer choice.”

“These regulations are not aimed at increasing the safety of our citizens or creating fairness in the industry as many would have you believe; rather, they are designed to stifle innovation and attempt to fit a new and disruptive approach to transportation into an archaic set of regulations and a framework that simply does not fit,” he wrote.

Galvano went on to say it is clear the state should establish “a single, unified approach to welcoming ridesharing and other groundbreaking services so our residents and guests know what they can expect as they travel from one community to another.”

“As majority leader of the Florida Senate, I am determined that our Legislature will soon enact a single, uniform set of reasonable standards for the ridesharing industry, that both protect our citizens and foster growth for the companies involved,” he wrote in his editorial. “No longer will we have a confusing amalgamation of state and local regulations that hurt competition and ultimately hamper the growth of our state economy and advancing technology.”

Lawmakers have tried to push through legislation aimed at regulating Uber and other ride-hailing technologies in recent years, but those efforts have failed.

A proposal passed the House during the 2016 legislative session that would have addressed insurance concerns, but included a provision that blocked local authorities, like the Hillsborough PTC, from regulating the services.

Joe Henderson: Hillsborough rideshare decision could rest with ‘problem solver’ Ken Hagan

Ken Hagan has been elected five times to the Hillsborough County Commission. That ought to say something about the way voters feel he takes care of both his and the public’s business.

Headlines tend to find him because he always seems to be involved in something important, but I wouldn’t say he seeks out publicity. Not at all. He tends to fly at treetop level, quietly working to get things done.

And as Peter Schorsch of this great website just noted, Hagan now potentially finds himself as the key vote to moving ahead, finally, with an agreement that could end the standoff between the Public Transportation Commission and ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft.

Here’s what I know about Hagan: He is a pragmatist who solves problems. He doesn’t get ruffled. He is sharp, well-informed, and not afraid to swim against the tide.

As a member of the PTC, Hagan now finds himself in the position for which he is well-suited — that of being a voice of reason. The PTC, as you probably know, has tried (and largely failed) to bring Uber and Lyft under the same umbrella as taxi and limo companies, mostly on the issue of background checks and the rates its drivers should charge.

That has ignored a fundamental truth — Uber and Lyft have as much in common with taxi companies as a plow horse has with a Kentucky Derby winner. Sure, you can ride both of them, but that’s where the comparison ends.

Since consumers just like the ride-sharing companies better, Uber and Lyft have leveraged that into a considerable lead in the battle for public opinion approval. People, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, are openly calling for the PTC to be disbanded. Critics call it archaic.

It’s a perfect situation for someone like Hagan to take the lead in reaching a settlement that makes at least most of the people happy.

I should admit I haven’t always agreed with Hagan. He took the lead on offering public subsidies to Bass Pro Shops in exchange for the company putting a store in Brandon. I thought then, and still think now, that it undercut mom-and-pop stores that specialized in outdoor and fishing gear.

After all, if it makes financial sense to open a business in a certain location — and judging by the traffic I regularly see at Bass Pro in Brandon, it certainly did — then why offer public incentives?

I will agree, though, that Hagan honestly saw it as the only way to attract a business he felt was beneficial for the area.

And I also will admit that I am glad to see Hagan involved in stadium talks with the Tampa Bay Rays in Hillsborough. I think his pragmatic approach will be in evidence there, too. If they ever reach a deal, it won’t look anything like the giveaway the county reached 20 years ago with the Bucs to build Raymond James Stadium.

First things first, though. Getting a deal done with Uber and Lyft is important for the county. Having it potentially in Hagan’s hands is not a bad thing.

Will Ken Hagan save ridesharing in Hillsborough?

They say the past is prologue. If that’s true, past votes and actions by Hillsborough County’s Public Transportation Commission can give us a glimpse at how the showdown over ridesharing may unfold.

And it looks like it could all be in the hands of one board member: Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan.

Oct. 13 is the date of the public hearing that could determine the future of ridesharing in Hillsborough County. That’s when the PTC is expected to vote to finalize new regulations for ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft. Among the contentious issues are Level II background checks and Public Vehicle Driver Licenses.

Five votes in favor of the new regulations allowed the plan to advance to this point, with only Hagan and Tampa City Councilman Guido Maniscalco in dissent.

Hagan has shown a preference for wanting to reach a settlement both parties can agree on. He supported opening negotiations to develop a temporary operating agreement between the PTC and ridesharing companies, rather than simply adopting a scheme that one side or the other would end up hating.

With the board seemingly split down the middle on the proposed regulations, Hagan has a real opportunity to listen to the wishes of his constituents and come out a hero on behalf of innovation.

The people of Hillsborough County have spoken out pretty clearly in support of ridesharing. They use it — all the time. Thousands have signed a petition to keep their community from becoming the next Austin, which Uber and Lyft earlier left earlier this year due to similar enforced regulations by a city council that wouldn’t embrace innovation.

This is Hagan’s opportunity to listen to the those in the community who disapprove of competition-limiting regulations. Earlier this month the head of government affairs and policy for the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce spoke out against the PTC and the taxicab industry in Hillsborough, declaring that there’s no excuse for the commission “to limit any further economic growth of a region by over-regulating an industry that’s being rightfully challenged by innovation.”

Proponents of the regulations include PTC member and Temple Terrace Councilman David Pogorilich, who has cited safety as the main concern for constituents. However, the thousands of Uber and Lyft supporters reject the claim that the regulations are anything more than a stifling ploy to reduce competition and inhibit innovation.

In just a few months, the Legislature is expected to take a comprehensive look at ridesharing from a statewide perspective. So in the meantime, there’s really no need for the PTC to adopt regulations that will divide the community.

If it’s all in Ken Hagan’s hands, let’s hope he sides with the future — and the public.

Uber agrees to proposed new rules — but will Hillsborough’s PTC follow suit?

An official with Uber said Thursday the San Francisco-based ridesharing company has come to an agreement regarding background checks and other new rules proposed by outgoing Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission Chair Victor Crist to have them finally operate legally in the county.

Whether they will be approved by the rest of the PTC remains uncertain at this point. The board will vote on the new rules on Oct. 13.

The announcement was made at a press conference held at the County Center in Tampa, with Uber’s Stephanie Smith joining Crist in expressing her company’s agreement with the new proposal. Officials with Lyft were not present. Crist said attorneys with that transportation network company were still going over the fine details of the agreement, but said he believed they would announce their support within the next 24 hours.

“We have been operating for almost three years in Hillsborough County without a regulatory framework that recognizes the nature of ridesharing options like Uber now operates,” said Smith, senior policy manager at Uber. “We believe this agreement represents the most responsible and clearest path forward, and we look forward to continuing the conversations over the next two weeks.”

The proposed new rules are stronger than current regulations regarding background checks — but they are not Level II, meaning no fingerprinting of ridesharing drivers. Both companies have said they would leave town if they were ordered to comply with that regulation, as they did in Austin, Texas earlier this year.

The PTC voted earlier this month to approve new rules that required Level II background checks. The newly proposed rules are being called Level I “plus 6,” which would request all criminal records throughout the U.S. on where the driver has lived within the last seven years. That would include federal court records, state and national sex offender database searchs, the FBI’s most-wanted list, Interpol’s most-wanted list, the DEA’s most-wanted list, and OFAC’s (Office of Foreign Asset Control) most-wanted list.

Crist said after attempting for more than two-and-a-half years to find a regulatory framework that could stick with ridesharing companies, he learned through PTC attorneys that the agency could propose new rules as a part of a court settlement.

Both Uber and Lyft currently have asked the 2nd District Court of Appeal to rule that the agency regulating for-hire vehicles in Hillsborough has no jurisdiction over ridesharing. Crist said that if done as a court settlement, there would be a contract in place, and if the companies don’t follow them they would be in contempt of court.

The proposed agreement is for 15 months. It calls for Uber to pay a $250,000 annual fee to operate in the county, and Lyft would pay $125,000. Why the difference? Because there are twice as many Uber vehicles operating in the county than there are Lyft cars. Violators will incur a penalty fee of $2,500, and a second-time incident will have a fee of $5,000.

Once a vehicle becomes registered with Uber, there will be a 21-day grace period before PTC license inspectors can check out those cars. There will be a 42-day grace period for existing vehicles currently registered with the PTC.

“We agree that the vehicle-for-hire industry is evolving and that the ridesharing industry is here to stay,” said Louie Minardi, president of Yellow Cab in Tampa. “We also believe that a level playing field helps to ensure both fair competition on equal terms and also promotes choices when it comes to public transportation.  Although we have not had an opportunity to review the proposed agreement between Uber and Commissioner Crist, in the spirit of cooperation and fairness, we are amenable to considering the same or similar temporary rules and regulations for ALL Transportation Network Companies and the taxi industry.”

Minardi also said the taxicab industry “still believes strongly that 1) Level II driver background checks (which include records in other states and fingerprint scans), 2) accessible commercial umbrella insurance from carriers vetted by the State of Florida, 3) vehicle inspections and 4) compliance with state and federal Americans with Disabilities Act provisions should be the minimum standard.”

Tampa City Councilman Guido Maniscalco was the only member of the PTC besides Crist at the press conference. He said with light-rail still years away from happening (if ever) in the county, the agreement is good for local transportation for Hillsborough County.

“Coming to this agreement is good. It shows that we are embracing innovation, that we embrace technology,”  he said, adding that too much government regulation stifles progress.

When asked if he believes that the PTC will approve his proposal, Crist said he believes there are three certain yes votes and three certain no votes, with Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan being the swing vote. Hagan did not return a call for comment on Thursday.

Kevin Hernandez: Uber, Lyft drive economic growth; regulators say, ‘Thanks, but no thanks’

kevin-hernandez-hispanic-chamber-of-commerce
Kevin Hernandez

As the backbone of a strong free-market economy, competition helps drive economic growth — incentivizing innovation, creating jobs, and ensuring the quality of goods and services is continuously improving.

It’s innovation and competition that’s led to the creation of Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) which are lowering costs for consumers, moving more people with fewer cars on the road, and expanding access to areas which aren’t friendly to public transportation. TNCs are growing rapidly in use and popularity, and require a steady and growing supply of drivers to keep pace with area demand.

Sadly, however, in Tampa, Hillsborough County’s Public Transportation Commission (PTC) Wednesday decided to stifle competition and limit opportunities for many, after voting 5-2 in favor of mandatory fingerprint-based background checks for TNC drivers.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because a few months ago a nearly identical regulation was passed in Austin.

As a result, Uber and Lyft decided to no longer provide their services in the Greater Austin area — leaving hundreds of thousands without access to these alternative platforms.

The real losers in such cases are both the drivers who relied on TNCs to help make ends meet, and the consumers who now have to revert to being at the mercy of unreliable taxi cab companies. Rather than listening to an overwhelming majority of constituents who voiced their support for ridesharing services, the Hillsborough County PTC has decided to dismiss public opinion and help a dying taxi industry — further demonstrating the corrupt behavior that defines cronyism.

What’s also troubling are the unintended consequences brought on by fingerprint background checks. The fact that fingerprint background checks may catch arrests without a conviction should quickly raise alarm bells to any public official. New fingerprint-based background checks are unnecessary and duplicative of the already existing background checks, which include rigorous in-person screenings and vehicle inspections. The new regulations only raise costs, narrow the pool of prospective drivers, and slow the growth of an essential economic sector in Tampa — without measurably enhancing public safety.

However, the true crime of fingerprinting rests in how it disproportionately impacts minority communities. African-American and other minorities, including Hispanics, are disproportionately arrested. Approximately one-third of these arrests, even for the most serious felonies, never result in a conviction. An individual should not fail a background check, and possibly lose a work opportunity, because he or she was arrested but never convicted of a crime.

Hispanic and African-American entrepreneurs already face major challenges in launching and expanding a business, and the PTC’s new rules create yet another unfair and unnecessary obstacle for minority entrepreneurs to pursue their American dream.

Now is not the time to minimize economic opportunities. Plenty of cities have struggled to bounce back from the 2008 housing market crash, but Tampa’s economy is at its strongest since the recession.

There’s no excuse for an archaic regulatory commission to limit any further economic growth of a region by over-regulating an industry that’s being rightfully challenged by innovation. It’s time local regulators quit picking winners and losers, and embrace a 21st-century economy where ride-sharing services are offering consumers innovative alternatives to a traditional, and often unchallenged, service.

It’s simple … Either adapt to a 21st-century economy where innovation is inevitable, or fall behind and suppress local economic growth.

___

Kevin Hernandez is the director of Government Affairs & Policy at the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

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