Mitch Perry Report 3.27.14 - Ashton Kutcher's rhetoric strikes out in Tallahassee

Posted by Mitch Perry on Thu, Mar 27, 2014 at 9:06 AM

That proposal to vastly expand the school voucher program in Florida apparently isn't dead after all, according to a report in today's Tampa Bay Times. But since it still lacks an accountability provision, its chances in the Senate still look remote. But who knows? Powerful people want that to happen this year.

When it comes to Uber, however, there appears to be little momentum to find a  way to have Tallahassee take local control of taxicabs and limousines away from local governments, after Jeff Brandes' amendment in the Senate Transportation Committee to do just that bit the dust yesterday. That had been the legislative vehicle (pardon the pun) that Tampa Bay Republican Brandes and Jamie Grant had opted to utilize to get the car-sharing app into Tampa and Miami, because current regulations in those areas make it harder (but not impossible) for Uber to do business there.

Although Uber reportedly has over 20 lobbyists in the state capitol this session, one wonders what genius thought it was wise last month to use a clip from actor Ashton Kutcher blasting the regulatory structure in Miami when he was on Jimmy Kimmel  when they made a private presentation to lawmakers. That clip showed Kutcher saying "Basically it's like mafioso, like village mentality of like we're not gonna let the new guy in. Like in Miami."

Several lawmakers told Uber's representative yesterday (including Tampa's Arthenia Joyner) that they didn't dig the references, and  basically seemed to be asking - who are these guys anyway? 

Uber has become the go-to company for free-market Republicans to rally around, as Marco Rubio did in a speech earlier this week, and as Grant and Brandes have been doing for months now. They've been riding on the already existing disdain people in Tampa have towards the Public Transportation Commission to move the power to regulate car services out of Hillsborough County. 

Of course, what Uber really doesn't like is the $50 minimum fare that exists in this county, or the one-hour minimum time to rent a car in Miami. Getting those provisions removed would get them in these markets. 

Uber's sparking reputation has taken a hit in the past few months, what with reports of "surge pricing" in particularly taken off some of the shine. And until this week, they had never voluntarily released their insurance policy. But after a leak to the press last weekend, Uber's now going public with it.

The folks against medical marijuana's initiative in Florida this November aren't getting helped by some of their largest voices in the conservative media. Commentator Michelle Malkiin will speaking at the Hernando County Republican Party's Lincoln Day Dinner next month. Malkin yesterday wrote how big a supporter of medical marijuana she is.

And if you or someone you know is in dire shape with their teeth or gums, help him or her get in line (maybe tonight, unfortunately) for access to a dentist tomorrow and Saturday at the Florida State Fairgrounds, where a group with the Florida Dental Association is providing free care.

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