State lawmaker touts chances of ride-sharing legislation

John R. Coughlin/CNN

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Sen. Jeff Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican who has backed statewide rules for ride-sharing companies such as Lyft and Uber, expressed confidence Sunday that lawmakers will move forward during the 2017 session with legislation that supporters say would help the industry expand.

"After years of debating this issue, Florida is finally ready to join more than two dozen states who have embraced ride-sharing," Brandes, chairman of the Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee, said in a prepared statement. "I look forward to working with my colleagues to adopt policies recognizing that tourists, residents, and business travelers have come to rely on seamless access to ride-share platforms."

Ride-sharing services operate in many Florida communities, but they have spurred political battles about the regulatory authority of cities and counties.

The industry has backed efforts to create statewide rules, but it has faced opposition from taxicab companies that are often heavily regulated at the local level and fear being put at a disadvantage if ride-sharing firms operate under lighter rules.

Bills about ride-sharing services have not yet been filed for the session that begins in March.

The Senate during the 2016 session did not go along with a House plan that would have set up statewide regulations for the industry.

But Sen. Joe Negron, a Stuart Republican who became Senate president in November, was among lawmakers who early this year supported statewide regulations.

Brandes' comment came as Lyft released an economic impact study Monday that touts its service as providing a combined $88.5 million in economic impacts in four Florida cities -- Jacksonville, Orlando, Miami and Tampa.

News Service of Florida