FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Broward County commissioners passed one of Florida’s first laws legalizing and regulating Uber a phone app-based ride-share service.
Meantime, the company argued the measures would drive them out.
“Their drivers will have to register. Vehicles will have to be inspected,” said Broward County Mayor Tim Ryan.
Broward Commissioners voted 5-4 to pass the background check that would make Uber drivers be fingerprinted. They also voted in favor of having drivers carry the heightened insurance required by state law for commercial vehicles for hire.
“As elected officials, we have to ensure that our residents are protected, ” said County Commissioner Mark Kiar. “I want to make sure that someone who gets behind the car of an Uber vehicle is not going to assault a resident or a college kid or somebody that gets in the back.”
Earlier in the day, a long line formed outside the county commissioner chambers for the meeting that included Uber drivers along with taxi and limo drivers who were upset that Uber drivers operate without costly regulations.
The California-based company is valued at $40 billion and according to the general manager in South Florida, it employs 2,000 people.
The company opposed three elements of the proposed law which included requiring drivers to have adequate insurance, registering as chauffeurs and getting permits, and undergoing an FBI criminal background check.
Uber said before the meeting that passage of the regulations would drive them out of the county.
“We’ve pulled out of cities with less regulation,” said Uber Manager Kasra Moshkani.
After the passage, Moshkani said, “We’re disappointed with some of the decisions that were made today but the reality was that it was a chaotic environment. There were a lot amendments that were filed late in the process so we’re going to take our time and go back and reassess those and determine what our options are,” said Moshkani.
When pressed about whether Uber would leave Broward County, Moshkani said, “That’s my statement. I’m not going to comment further.”
Late into the night Uber spokesman Bill Gibbons issued a statement Tuesday saying, “Today’s decision lets down tens of thousands of Broward County residents who urged the Commission to protect their jobs and access to safe, reliable rides through countless calls and emails. We cannot operate in Broward County if such onerous regulations are enforced, and stand ready to re-engage with the Commission to bring more choice and opportunity back to Broward County. ”
Uber arrived in Broward last August. Uber had hoped state legislators would pass a law preventing local governments from regulating the so-called transportation network companies, but that bill is now parked in the House and it’s unlikely it will come up for a vote before the end of the session.