Tampa, Florida -- The past problems the Hillsborough Public Transportation Commission that became the target of 10 News investigations are catching up to it as two state lawmakers push to dissolve the agency.

Foryears, the PTC has been under a cloud of controversy.Among the issues that have caused problems for the PTC include:

  • The arrest and conviction of County Commissioner Kevin White for taking bribes to use his influence as chair of the PTC.

  • Former executive director Greg Cox being forced out after we uncovered he gave himself a bigger raise than he deserved, and

  • Cox's successor Cesar Padilla, who didn't meet the minimum requirement for the job, was taking college classes to meet the requirement while he was on the job in addition to earning a six-figure salary. Then 10 News learned Padilla was using sick time to moonlight.

As a result of these problems, Representative James W. Grant (R-Tampa) and Senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) submitted legislation that will repeal the Hillsborough Public Transportation Commission (PTC) and give Hillsborough County taxpayers a greater say in the future of transportation.

The filing of this legislation formalizes the effort by Representative Grant and Senator Brandes to eliminate arbitrary and protectionist policies that thwart innovation in the region.

"The Public Transportation Commission has evolved from an agency designed to preserve public safety into an agency that is preventing competition in the market and restricting consumer choice," Representative Grant stated. "Senator Brandes and I agree that it's time the taxpayers have a say in the matter and this referendum will give them exactly that."

"I have come to believe that the PTC is no longer serving the needs of our community and is placing burdensome restrictions on small businesses that seek to provide transportation options in our region," Senator Brandes continued. "The transportation marketplace is rapidly changing and the antiquated institution of the PTC is not suited for the dynamic opportunities which lie ahead."

The PTC is an Independent Special District that was created by the State Legislature in 1976 to regulate ambulances, limousines and taxicabs.

See also:Hillsborough Public Transportation Commission sued for setting minimum limo prices

Should the bill pass both chambers of the Legislature and receive approval by the Governor, a majority of Hillsborough voters must approve the dissolution of the PTC by referendum. The bill must first win approval by the local legislative delegation when it meets in December.

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