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Rideshare advertising bills head to committee this week

The bill would let companies like Uber and Lyft use car-top ads.

Proposed legislation that would allow transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft to begin placing digital advertising boards on top of vehicles is slated for its first committee hearing this week. A similar bill in the Senate (SB 1352) heads to its first committee Monday.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee will hear Rep. Bob Rommel‘s bill (HB 1039) Tuesday at noon.

While the bill would affect companies like Uber and Lyft by allowing them to incorporate advertising into their revenue model, which could also increase earning potential for drivers, neither company is behind its inclusion in this year’s Legislative Session.

An out of state company that provides such signs, Firefly, is pushing it in Florida in order to enter the marketplace.

The measure would allow illuminated and digitally operated advertisements on top of vehicles. The bill limits the sign to no taller than 20 inches and no longer than 54 inches. Regardless of the size, the sign could not extend beyond the rear of front windshield or otherwise impair the driver’s vision.

The signs could only operate while the vehicle is running.

Rommel’s bill also requires the advertisements to abide by all state guidelines regarding lighting requirements.

Transportation network companies would also have to provide at least 10% of their advertising stock to governments, nonprofit or charitable organizations at no cost.

The signs would be prohibited from advertising any illegal goods or services or any ads that include nudity, depictions of violence or disparaging or false advertisements.

Transportation network companies are any business that provides prearranged rides, typically through the use of a mobile application. The bill does not address whether drivers working under a transportation network platform, who are typically independent contractors who use their personal vehicles, would have to agree to use the digital advertising in order to continue working for the company.

It also does not address whether the digital advertising boards would be permanently attached to the vehicle or if they could be removed when the car is not in use for transportation for-hire services. Nor does it address whether a driver who uses their private vehicle to work for a transportation network company would be able to share in the profits from advertising proceeds.

The bill also adds a category for luxury ground transportation network companies that requires them to follow the same laws as traditional TNCs.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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