Amid Hillsborough driver crackdown, Sen. Brandes vows to bring back failed Uber law

For years, State Sen. Jeff Brandes had sought to pass a law at the state level that would legalize and regulate ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft.

Though prolific, those companies are operating in something of a legal grey area in Florida, and some communities are friendlier to the services than others. That means cities and counties can ticket drivers for operating locally if they want to, as is the case in Hillsborough County.

Once again, that bill died in the winter legislative session.

"Our Senate President [Andy Gardiner] is often quick to say he'll be ready to debate," Brandes said at a recent Suncoast Tiger Bay Club event recapping the event. "But apparently that didn't count when it came to ride-sharing companies. For days and days that bill sat on the calendar and we failed to debate it.”

That, of course, frustrated Brandes, who said he thought the bill had a pretty good shot, and even passed in the House — which might be why Senate leadership didn't want to touch it.

"I think the major concern was that we had votes," he said. "We had votes to [pass] the House bill, [it was] overwhelmingly supported by the Florida House, bipartisan support, passed it off to the Florida Senate."

In Hillsborough County, this means that the Public Transportation Commission's recent crackdown on ride-sharing services can continue unabated. 

“For a variety of different reasons we need to pick that bill up next year and pass [it],” Brandes said.