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Florida Legislature Approves Ridesharing Bill

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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) - After years of debate about the issue, the Florida Senate quickly passed a bill that would create statewide regulations for ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft.

On Wednesday, the Senate voted 36-1 to approve the bill (HB 221), which already passed the House. Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, cast the only dissenting vote.

Companies such as Uber and Lyft heavily supported the bill, which would prevent varying local regulations across the state on the fast-growing "transportation network company" industry.

"Florida lawmakers voted today to remove the roadblock constructed by years of entrenched interests and ensure residents and visitors alike have choices when it comes to transportation," Brewster Bevis, a senior vice president of Associated Industries of Florida, said in a prepared statement.

"This legislation will provide certainty for the many Floridians who use the convenient and affordable transportation services offered by Lyft, and we encourage the Governor to sign this bill into law. We want to thank the Lyft community throughout Florida for standing up in support of ridesharing," said Lyft communication manager Chelsea Harrison in a statement.

"The most exciting opportunities are yet to come, as millions of Florida residents and visitors, from Pensacola to Key West, will have permanent access to Uber," said Uber Public Affairs Director Colin Tooze.

Local governments and the taxicab industry, which often is regulated locally, have long opposed a statewide regulatory framework for ridesharing companies. But the bill easily moved through the Legislature this year and drew virtually no discussion on the Senate floor Wednesday.

It now goes to Gov. Rick Scott's desk for his signature.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.

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