Jeff Brandes and Matt Gaetz make their case for ‘inevitable’ Uber, as taxi and limo drivers picket

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State Sen. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg and Shalimar state Rep. Matt Gaetz held a joint conference with representatives from Uber Technologies late this morning. Their message: Uber is here to stay in Florida’s streets and in state statute.

“On the other side of this issue, though,” said Brandes, “you’ve got municipalities who, be it through crony capitalism or collusive capitalism, continue to throw up regulations to stop the free market. But I will fight with anyone who will fight with me to make sure we have free enterprise in Florida.”

That “other side” was right downstairs, and drivers and influencers with the Florida Taxi Cab Association and Florida Limousine Association held a show of force downstairs in the Capitol courtyard.

The associations claim that they are seeking to ensure public safety for Floridians by seeking legislation to “require that [Uber and Lyft] follow similar requirements as their industries in the areas of insurance, background checks, vehicle safety and more.”

Gaetz teed off on that line of inquiry in his talk on the 3rd floor of the Capitol.

“I’m sure that when the cab companies come to testify that their only concern is public safety, and not their rapidly depleting marketshare,” said Gaetz with a wry smirk.

Roger Chapin, spokesman for the taxi cab advocacy group recently told Nathan Pemberton of WFSU that for all of its impassioned rhetoric, Uber still has not fully made its argument.

“It’s not intellectually honest. Uber refuses to be regulated and the taxi cab industry is caught in the middle,” said Chapin.

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