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Published on Monday, January 29, 2018

Dueling Lyft and Uber bills make first public appearance in 2018

Separate bills that would set up a regulatory system for Transportation Network Companies (such as Uber and Lyft) have made their debut in the 2018 Legislature.

SB 6043/HB 2716, Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens)/Rep. Gael Tarleton (D-Seattle), are companion bills that are backed by the transportation network industry. These bills seek to limit the regulating authority of local governments.

Specifically, SB 6043/HB 2716 establish a statewide regulatory authority of all Transportation Network Companies (TNCs). The Department of Licensing (DOL) would be the regulatory agency and city ability to regulate drivers would be significantly curtailed. DOL would be responsible for permitting individual drivers, conducting background checks, maintaining records of drivers, and regulating their conduct. TNCs would be responsible for vehicle inspections and assessing a $0.10 surcharge on all TNC trips that would go to the DOL to cover the costs of administering the program. Any leftover money would be distributed to local governments proportionally based on the number of rides within each jurisdiction to cover the costs of local enforcement.

The bill specifically preempts local governments from regulating TNCs through licensing and permits for a TNC and TNC drivers including:

  • All requirements, applications, certification, examinations, and background checks for TNC drivers;
  • Rates, routes, safety and equipment requirements; and
  • Any other operational requirements for a TNC.

The preemption does not affect local authority to impose safe and reliable requirements on for-hire vehicle services as long as they are consistent with the bill. This preemption also does not affect local authority with respect to regulating and enforcing traffic flow, traffic patterns, and roadways, to ensure public safety and convenience.

SB 6500/HB 2945, Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle)/Rep. Jake Fey (D-Tacoma), are companion bills backed by the City of Seattle, King County, and others.

SB 6500/HB 2945 retains much of local government’s authority to regulate TNCs and their drivers.

Among its numerous provisions the bills require a TNC to:

  • Provide a weekly driver list with specified information to DOL;
  • Provide a daily TNC vehicle list;
  • Conduct annual safety inspections of vehicles and require background checks of drivers;
  • Provide information regarding the recertification of TNC drivers and vehicles;
  • Display a photograph of the TNC driver and the license plate before rider enters the vehicle;
  • Provide electronic receipts to TNC riders within one hour of trip completion;
  • Suspend a TNC driver upon receipt of a complaint alleging a violation of the zero tolerance policy;
  • Inform DOL and local law enforcement of a complaint, conduct investigations of allegations, and take appropriate action for any violations of the policy;
  • Implement a zero alcohol and drug policy for TNC drivers while accessing the TNC digital network or provided prearranged rides;
  • Adopt a nondiscrimination policy regarding riders; and
  • Provide notice of the zero tolerance and nondiscrimination policies on its web site, as well as procedures to report a complaint about a TNC driver.

The bill outlines requirements of TNC drivers, including mandatory fingerprinting and business licensing and violations by a TNC driver that invoke immediate revocation of a license.

The bill also specifies fee and surcharge requirements and allows for occasional auditing of drivers by local governments.

AWC has expressed support and preference for SB 6500/HB 2495.

The Senate versions of the bill had a public hearing in the Senate Transportation Committee on January 22. The House versions will have hearings the week of January 29.

Categories: Transportation
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