Uber targets Andy Gardiner to back House bill on TNC’s

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With the Legislature prepared to close out its 2016 Regular Legislative Session next week, Uber is pulling out all the stops to get Senate support for a bill it supports that has passed the House.

Uber officials says Andy Gardiner is the reason the Senate won’t support the Matt Gaetz-sponsored bill on Transportation Network Companies (TNC), and they’re targeting the Senate president in several ways.

The group has sent e-mails to its supporters in Orlando that says, “Senate President Andy Gardiner and the special interests he represents are blocking comprehensive legislation to regulate Uber across the state from even reaching a vote on the Senate floor. Ask Senator Gardiner to allow his colleagues in the Senate to vote on the House ridesharing bill.”

It has also produced digital ads up on Google and Facebook, pushed out text messages to Orlando residents, and released this video.

On Tuesday, an Uber spokesman blasted Gardiner, telling him to set his “personal self-interest” and “special interest politics aside.” Uber alleges that Gardiner’s relationship with Mears Transportation has affected his objectivity regarding the legislation.

The Gaetz bill includes insurance requirements of $50,000 in coverage for death and bodily injury per person, $100,000 in coverage for death and bodily injury per incident, and $25,000 in coverage for property damage while logged on to the network. It would also set requirements for driver background checks and would block local governments from establishing rules for rideshare programs.

A measure in the Senate sponsored by Altamonte Springs Republican Dave Simmons and supported by Gardiner has yet to come to the Senate floor for a vote. Its insurance requirements for Uber and Lyft are more expensive than the House version.

It would also require ride-sharing companies to have $125,000 in coverage for death and bodily injury per person, $250,000 in coverage for death and bodily injury per incident, and $50,000 in coverage for property damage when logged on to the network or engaged in a prearranged ride. When the driver was not logged into the system, drivers would have to maintain $25,000 in coverage for death and bodily injury per person, $50,000 in coverage for death and bodily injury per incident and $10,000 in coverage for property damage, all levels that are higher than the state’s personal injury protection insurance requirements.

Unlike the House bill, the Senate bill does not  address the issue of blocking local governments (like the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission) from establishing rules for rideshare programs.

That prompted Katie Betts, a spokeswoman for Gardiner, to tell FloridaPolitics.com that “no senator filed a companion to the House bill requiring state preemption.”

Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was 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 and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at [email protected]


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