January 19, 2017
January 19, 2017
January 17, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ORLANDO, FL, Jan. 11, 2017 — Lawmakers from the Florida House and Senate will announce today the introduction of legislation related to ridesharing and Transportation Network Companies (TNCs). The Florida Taxicab Association (FTA) is calling for a thorough and comprehensive debate that balances the interests of all stakeholders.
“As an industry, we agree with much of what has been debated in the past related to reducing barriers and regulations for TNCs as well as taxicab companies,” said Roger Chapin, an FTA board member and executive with Mears Transportation in Orlando. “However, we firmly believe any legislation should also protect passengers, drivers and third parties when it comes to consumer protections such as background checks and insurance.”
A joint news conference with Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) and Representative Chris Sprowls (R-Clearwater) is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 11 at 1 p.m. on the fourth floor of the Capitol Rotunda. Additional press inquiries may be sent to the FTA at FloridaTaxicabAssociation@gmail.com as well as Roger Chapin directly at Rchapin@Mears.com.
October 4, 2016
The Florida Taxicab Association (FTA) has called on Uber and Lyft, again, to immediately implement fingerprinting for drivers as an improved method to screen drivers.
A Lyft driver, who may also be an Uber driver was arrested in Orlando on charges of sexual battery and kidnapping a woman.
This is not the first time drivers for Uber or Lyft have sexually assaulted passengers. In fact another sexual assault by an Uber driver occurred in Orlando just a few months ago, and a growing list of incidents throughout the country has caused some cities and states to implement tougher screening measures for Uber and Lyft drivers. Many of the drivers accused of sexual assault had lengthy criminal records.
“Fingerprinting is the gold standard for background checks,” said Louie Minardi, President of the Florida Taxicab Association. “We also believe that the mere requirement of fingerprinting not only weeds out those who shouldn’t be driving in the first place, but also serves as a deterrent for future bad behavior.”
As if the growing trend of sexual assaults by Uber and Lyft drivers was not enough, an Uber driver in Palm Beach County was recently cited in an accident investigation for not having a valid driver’s license and no insurance. The officer wrote that a check of the Uber driver “revealed her Florida driver’s license was suspended on May 15, 2014 and was still listed as suspended on the date of the accident. Additionally, an insurance check on the vehicle…determined the insurance was cancelled February 15, 2016.”
“Uber and Lyft are not new or innovative anymore,” said Roger Chapin, an FTA Board Member and Mears executive in Orlando. “It’s high time regulators required standard procedures for background checks and insurance verification for all Uber and Lyft drivers and forced compliance.”
“Uber says ‘trust us’ on background checks,” added Minardi. “Heck, they don’t even know if their own drivers have valid driver’s licenses and insurance! Give me a break!”
September 30, 2016
The worldwide phenomenon known as ridesharing came to Florida in Orlando in June of 2014, and – as has been the case in virtually every other community around the world – the clash between this dynamic new business model and age-old regulations hasn’t been smooth, to say the least. Uber’s battle with the taxi industry and local governments in Florida has been well noted in recent years, and in July 2015 the company dropped out of Broward County. While the battle between government entities of all sorts and Uber have touched Miami, Orlando, and now Tampa, one thing is for certain, this contentious relationship will not lighten up anytime soon.
View Magazine Article Here: https://issuu.com/influenceflorida/docs/influence_summer-fall2016/c/smtpfh8
August 16, 2016
Uber argues that mandatory fingerprint-based background checks would “prove a disadvantage to minorities, who are arrested at a disproportionately higher rate.” However, the Florida Taxicab Association discovered the real reason Uber won’t perform fingerprint background checks is there are not enough drivers who would actually pass the background check.
August 15, 2016
May 5, 2016
March 10, 2016
To say that Florida Senator Jeff Brandes has been a champion for Uber would be an under-statement. The Senator has pushed “model legislation,” written by Uber, as a solution for any regulatory impediment the company may encounter in Florida now or in the future.
Uber’s “model legislation,” which passed the House earlier this session (HB 509), lets them off the hook from a number of regulatory measures that traditional taxi and other vehicle-for-hire operators have complied with for decades.
For example, Uber’s bill would prohibit any regulator, law enforcement officer, city or county from requiring fingerprints of any Uber driver for criminal background checks. The bill sets lower limits for insurance for the app companies when they are not carrying passengers, which also happens to be the time most accidents occur. It gives Uber a pass on ADA laws and requires a whopping $5,000 license for Uber to operate throughout the entire State of Florida, when taxi companies are paying millions in taxes, fees and licenses to state and local governments.
Fortunately, in the Senate, Rules Chairman David Simmons has worked with all parties involved, including taxi companies, transportation network companies (TNCs), the insurance industry and legal community, to reach consensus on the subject of how best to regulate TNCs. The result is a bill that closes the “insurance doughnut hole” for TNC drivers, requires insurance levels to protect the traveling public and provides some “limited preemption” or regulatory relief for companies like Uber and LYFT.
But Uber will accept no compromise nor offer any concessions, short of passing their own “model bill” that is stuck in legislative limbo. While the bill passed the House, Senator Brandes and Uber failed to even offer a companion bill in the Senate, rendering the House bill effectively dead on arrival in the Senate. Faced with the prospect that Uber’s “model legislation” might not pass, Senator Brandes has gone from “Champion” to “Panderer.”
As soon as Senator Simmons introduced his compromise legislation, a bill that required weeks of meetings and concessions from all parties, Brandes introduced a “strike all” amendment to effectively replace the Senate bill with the House bill.
This is not the first time Sen. Brandes has done Uber’s bidding. Late last week, when nobody was watching, Senator Brandes tried to slip in an amendment to an unrelated highway safety bill. The amendment by Brandes would have removed Uber from the definition of “for-hire” vehicles, made Uber exempt from any future regulations and ensured Uber never had to purchase commercial insurance. Fortunately, that amendment didn’t pass.
The Florida Taxicab Association (FTA) has consistently supported common sense regulations and insurance for Uber, Lyft and all Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) to ensure there is coverage that matches the risk associated with providing vehicle-for-hire services to the public, including 24/7 commercial insurance and fingerprint-verified criminal background checks.
The FTA, Uber, Lyft, insurance companies, the trial bar and Senator David Simmons negotiated on a framework for regulations of TNCs. Senator Brandes’ Uber amendment is a just an “end around” on the process, undermining the committee meetings and negotiations that have taken place for months.
The FTA calls on Senator Brandes to drop his special amendment for Uber and respect the legislative process.