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Digital advertising could be coming to an Uber near you

A proposed framework would prevent local governments from establishing their own rules.

A bill seeking to provide a statewide regulatory framework for digital advertising cleared its first committee in the Senate Monday.

Sen. Jeff Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican, is sponsoring a bill (SB 1352) that would provide a pathway for transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft to incorporate digital advertising into their business model.

The framework would allow both drivers and their companies to earn additional revenue.

The signs would be illuminated and digitally operated. The bill limits the signs to no taller than 20 inches and no wider than 54 inches. Regardless of the size, the sign could not extend beyond the rear or front windshield or otherwise impair the driver’s vision.

The signs could only operate while the vehicle is running.

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

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.

While the bill, along with a version in the house (HB 1039), would directly relate to Uber and Lyft, they’re not the companies pushing the legislation. It’s actually a request from Firefly, an out of state company that makes and sells the advertising billboards companies would use.

Despite its initial approval, there are some concerns about the bill.

New Port Richey Republican Sen. Ed Hooper worried first about whether or not vehicles driving around with what he described as the equivalent of two big screen televisions on top of their cars would pose a safety hazard.

“If that were the only thing this bill said I could probably say let’s give it a chance,” Hooper said.

But that wasn’t his only concern. Hooper also lamented the preemption component of the law by creating a universal set of regulations for all municipalities and county governments to follow.

Hooper, along with several others, said some of the rule-making around digital advertising on cars might be better left to elected officials in the areas affected by their inclusion.

Even with the pushback, Hooper was the lone no-vote in the Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee.

Brandes closed on his bill with a promise to continue working with legislators on language to ensure a good final product.

The bill heads next to the Innovation, Industry and Technology committee.

The House version has not yet been heard in committee.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at Janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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