Tampa and two other Florida municipalities, Miami and Orlando, currently mandate minimum fares for limousines. That law is being challenged in Hillsborough County by an advocacy organization which charges such legislation violates the rights of entrepreneurs and customers by violating their due process and equal protection clauses. A proposal to get rid of such mandates has also been moving through the Legislature this spring in bills sponsored by Tampa Bay area Republicans Jeff Brandes and Jamie Grant.
Now that advocacy group — the Florida Chapter of the Institute for Justice — say a poll they've commissioned shows overwhelming support for getting rid of such a requirement, though it's hardly scientific in its method. The group says that by using Google Customer Surveys, over 78 percent agree or strongly agree with the question, "Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: It should be legal for Florida limo drivers to offer deals, including discounts, to their customers."
“This poll demonstrates that Floridians recognize that protectionist regulations that only serve to harm consumers have no place in our state,” said Justin Pearson, Executive Director of the Florida Chapter of the Institute for Justice. “Floridians intuitively know that it should not be illegal to give customers a good deal, but for many years the laws governing taxicab companies and limousines in Tampa, Miami and Orlando have defied all intuition and common sense at the behest of a small group of politically-connected corporations who have relied on the government to protect them from competition. The purpose of Government is to protect public health and safety; not to protect businesses from giving consumers a better deal.”
Brandes and Grant's proposals have been dubbed "The Uber bill," since the mandatory minimum in Hillsborough has been cited by the car-sharing company as a deterrent from them doing business in the Tampa Bay area. But two weeks ago the San Francisco-based company decided without waiting for approval that they would introduce their UberX platform in Tampa and St. Petersburg, openly flaunting the laws imposed by the HIllsborough County Public Transportation Commission.
The actual survey had 720 responses from Floridians, of which 470 registered an opinion. It has a margin of error of ±4.2%. The breakdown went like this:
Strongly Agree 53.1%
Somewhat Agree 25.1%
Somewhat Disagree 3.1%
Strongly Disagree 22.7%
“If the Legislature fails to the remove these burdensome restrictions on entrepreneurs and consumers, our lawsuit will serve as limo drivers’ last and best hope of breaking the transportation cartel that has locked-down Tampa’s system for too long,” said The institute's for Justice's Pearson. “We’re confident that if the Legislature fails to fix this, we will ultimately succeed."