Update: Palm Beach County OKs Uber rules on 1st reading; 2nd vote April 19

Uber1Palm Beach County Commissioners, after spending 2-1/2 hours Tuesday yet again debating rules for Uber-style firms, voted them up 7-0 on  the first of two votes; the second would be April 19.

Major points: both Uber-style outfits and taxis would be responsible to either conduct their own background checks or hire the county to do the more comprehensive and costly fingerprint-based “Level II” checks for them.

That, and what insurance would be required of drivers in both endeavors, have been sticking points in the debate for going on two years.

Uber and Lyft say the proposed rules would guarantee they operate safely; taxi firms say aren’t sufficient and give the app-based rides an unfair advantage.

“If we were having a real safety issue we would be hearing it. We would be seeing it,” said Tomas Bolton, head of the local “Citizens for Improved Transit.”

But limo service owner Sheryl Berkowitz said, “I cannot believe what’s going on, being a woman, mother, and a property owner. Why don’t you just let everyone drive?”

She added, “ the only thing you’re protecting is uber’s wishes; its transportation model.”

Lee Barron, who operates a Fort Pierce-based transportation service to airports and ports, told the commission, “You should just deregulate the whole mess, get out of it  You probably wish you never heard the words “vehicle for hire.”

Palm Beach County had set a temporary operating agreement in September 2014. A year later, it opted not to set new rules, instead calling on the Florida legislature to enact uniform regulations for the entire state. On March 1, commissioners extended the agreement to April 30, to see what Tallahassee did. In mid-March the state body adjourned without a law in place.

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.

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