Trenches are once again being dug for an Uber war in Tallahassee.
The Florida Senate's Banking and Insurance Committee passed a bill requiring drivers for Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing services to have the same level of insurance as taxi drivers, and to have it all the time. That stands in contrast to model legislation agreed upon by the insurance industry and ride-hailing companies that has already been passed in at least 20 states, and cleared its final committee in the House last week.
The House version requires more insurance -- $1 million worth – but only when the driver has passengers in the vehicle and the Uber or Lyft app is on.
The Senate version was similar until the bill's sponsor, state Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, made the bill more taxi-friendly.
"This is a work in progress," Simmons said. "The concern that I have is the citizens of the state of Florida be protected in the event there is an accident. That includes the drivers, it includes the passengers, a person who may be injured who is a pedestrian. It also means a level playing field for the persons who are the stakeholders in this."
John Camillo, CEO of Broward's Yellow Cab, praised the Senate bill, saying it clarifies what coverage is required, protects people from uninsured drivers and "goes a long way to creating some parity between taxis and [ride-hailing companies]."
But Stephanie Smith, senior public policy manager for Uber, called the Senate version "a dealbreaker."
"Our drivers are not 24/7 on the app," she said. "Many of them are less than 10 hours on the app."
The House bill is ready for a full floor vote but the Senate version still has two committee hearings to go.