High-profile lawyer-lobbyist Sean Pittman, who formerly represented the Florida Limousine Association, is switching sides to Uber, the ride-sharing service.
Pittman, one of INFLUENCE magazine’s “Top 100 Influencers,” is a big get for Uber, based in San Francisco.
Pittman’s reach is statewide, with a presence in Tallahassee, Palm Beach County, and Miami.
Expect Pittman and Uber to push lawmakers to pass a measure giving Florida regulatory power over app-based transportation services, taking control away from individual cities and counties.
As Session gets under way, a few lawmakers are already neck deep on the issue. During the 2015 Session, a bill sponsored by state Rep. Matt Gaetz sought to create a regulatory framework for companies such as Uber and rival Lyft by imposing measures such as background checks and minimum insurance requirements. The bill did not pass.
According to Daniel Ducassi of POLITICO Florida, Gaetz intends to file a similar bill this session, confident it will be a success this time, despite “strong headwinds” in the Senate. Gaetz himself is running for the Senate seat held by his father, Sen. Don Gaetz.
“Uber legislation is coming,” Matt Gaetz told POLITICO. “And it’s gonna arrive faster than a taxi.”
Last year, Uber launched a website calling on the Legislature to address the regulatory issue during June’s special budget Session. Despite collecting signatures from supporters and Uber customers, lawmakers once again failed to take up the issue.
In the meantime, the taxi industry is also expected to push back this Session. In Leon County, taxi companies filed a pair of lawsuits in September to force the state to regulate app-based transportation companies, as well as hold Uber and Lyft to the same insurance requirements as taxi firms.