Lawmakers grapple with car-sharing issues

Pointing to the complexity of addressing new technologies, a House committee Tuesday approved a bill that would create a regulatory framework for “peer-to-peer” car-sharing services.

The 11-6 vote by the Ways & Means Committee came after a lengthy discussion about whether the services should be required to collect sales taxes and rental-car surcharges that are imposed on rental-car companies. The services are technology platforms that connect car owners with people who pay to use the vehicles, with the services taking a cut of the amounts paid.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Chris Latvala, R-Clearwater, addresses a series of issues, including insurance requirements and steps to provide consumer protections. But peer-to-peer car services, such as the companies Turo and Avail, are fighting part of the bill that would make them collect and remit taxes and surcharges like rental-car companies.

Supporters of the tax and surcharge proposal include Enterprise Rent-A-Car and its sister companies National Car Rental and Alamo Rent a Car. Committee member Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, said the issue “encapsulates” a lot of technology-related issues facing the Legislature.

“The reality is that these technologies are advancing quicker and faster than our revenue laws can keep up with them,” Ingoglia said. “So we are always behind the eight ball. We are, as a Legislature, reacting to what the technology is doing.”

The bill must clear the State Affairs Committee before it could go to the full House.