TALLAHASSEE — The Legislature may spend $10,000 on a study showing how Uber and other hired-car services are helping reduce drunk-driving accidents and arrests in Florida.
The study appeared in “proviso language” Monday night as lawmakers continue their work on a 2015-16 state budget.
More importantly, the language would prohibit local regulation of ride-booking services while the study is being done. In Tampa, for example, Hillsborough County’s Public Transportation Commission wants Uber to abide by the same requirements for insurance coverage, vehicle inspections and driver background checks as taxis and other vehicles-for-hire.
The commission has ticketed Uber drivers, sent warning letters to the San Francisco-based company and has even sued.
In the overall budget bill, proviso language adds detail to how a specific appropriation will be spent.
The language for the drunk-drving study, to be performed by the Legislature’s research arm, is not yet attached to a specific appropriation, however.
State Sen. Jeff Brandes, the St. Petersburg Republican behind the study language, has strived to help Uber and other “transportation network companies” this year.
He told the Tribune/Daily News Capital Bureau he believes access to ride-booking services is driving down DUIs.
Customers use a mobile-phone app to find available drivers near them, summon a ride and pay for it, all online. Drivers often respond in a matter of minutes.
“I want to make it easier for individuals to do the right thing,” Brandes said after a justice budget conference meeting late Friday. “Municipalities that prohibit these types of entities are making it harder for people to do the right thing.”
If it is included in the final budget, the language requires the study to be submitted to Gov. Rick Scott by next April 1.
Earlier this year, Uber’s 23 registered lobbyists pushed a far-reaching House bill (HB 817) that would have taken away regulatory power from local boards and reserve it to the state. That measure was not passed.