By Michael Maurino, Director of Government Relations, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce
Uber is rolling, or not rolling: Ridesharing legislation this week took another step to the State House floor when the House Economic Affairs Committee approved a bill that would allow companies like Uber to operate in Florida. Ridesharing companies would be subject to stronger insurance requirements, but not the same background checks as taxi drivers. The bill also would allow state regulations to override local regulations. Despite the early success of the bill, it has no Senate companion.
Earlier this week in downtown Tampa, Uber drivers protested recent rate cuts. Driver rates have gone from $1.80 per mile to $0.65 per mile in the last 16 months. At one point, an Uber user would have pulled up the app in downtown Tampa and found no cars available, due to the protest.
Editorial – Build the Gandy connector: In an editorial published today, the Tampa Bay Times backed the concept of an elevated highway in the median of Gandy Blvd., connecting the Selmon Expressway to the Gandy Bridge. The Gandy connector would serve the nearly 40% of drivers that use Gandy as a pass-through. The Times argues that the connector’s regional scope is valuable, and it could be built in a manner that improves the pedestrian experience on Gandy Blvd.
St. Pete continues their legacy of supporting Tampa Bay Baseball: By a 5-3 vote, the St. Petersburg City Council approved an agreement that would allow the Tampa Bay Rays to look for a new stadium outside St. Pete, including Tampa and Hillsborough County. The vote breaks a stalemate that has lasted since 2009. The vote was a reminder of another St. Pete City Council decision in favor of Tampa Bay Baseball: the 1986 council vote to build what would become Tropicana Field.
MacDill has a chance at new tankers: MacDill Air Force Base is one of several bases that could host 36 new KC-46 air refueling tankers by 2020, according to Rep. Kathy Castor. The current tankers at MacDill were built in the 1950s. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter visited MacDill on Thursday.
Military Appreciation Banquet: Join us on Wednesday, Feb. 24 for the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce 2016 Military Appreciation Banquet, presented by Bright House Networks! Registration is now open for corporate tables and individual tickets.
This year’s keynote speaker is Vincent Jackson, of the Jackson in Action 83 Foundation and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. For his work with military families, Vincent is a 2015 NFL Man of the Year nominee.
The 2016 Military Appreciation Banquet will showcase our servicemen and women. Join us as we honor those who serve in our community, and defend our nation. Visit our website for more information, and to purchase tickets.