What a difference a year makes in the world of ridesharing. Just 18 months ago, only one state (Colorado) had passed comprehensive legislation legalizing and regulating the emerging market of transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft. Now we’re down to just a handful of states that have yet to act.

Joining Florida, Pennsylvania, Missouri and New Mexico among states that are seeing renewed legislative pushes in 2016, the majority leader of West Virginia’s House of Delegates has introduced legislation that would authorize the state Department of Motor Vehicles to license TNC drivers and enforce minimum basic requirements for insurance criminal background checks.

H.B. 4228 – the bill from Del. Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan – cleared the House Roads and Transportation Committee earlier this week and now will be sent on to the House Finance Committee. Like other recent bills crafted in the wake of last year’s major inter-industry compromise, the measure provides that insurance requirements can be satisfied either by the driver or the TNC, and sets minimum levels of $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident for bodily injury, as well as $25,000 for physical damage.

The measure also would clarify that TNC drivers are considered independent contractors under state law, provided both parties agree by contract and the TNC does not prescribe the driver’s hours, territory or forbid drivers from doing other work or driving for rival TNCs. As a result, the law would stipulated that TNCs are not responsible to provide workers’ compensation coverage to drivers.

The West Virginia Legislature came within a hair of passing a similar bill, S.B. 585, during last year’s session. Differing versions of the measure did manage to pass both houses, but the chambers ultimately could not reach a compromise on language prohibiting drivers from discriminating against passengers on the basis of sexual orientation or gender presentation.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, a Democrat, separately introduced a bill during this session, H.B. 4305, that would require TNCs to have a nondiscrimination policy and comply with nondiscrimination laws. Similar generic anti-discrimination language also is included in the Cowles bill, which states:

(a) The transportation network company shall adopt a policy of nondiscrimination with respect to riders and potential riders and notify transportation network company drivers of such policy.

(b) Transportation network company drivers shall comply with all applicable laws regarding nondiscrimination against riders or potential riders.

(c) Transportation network company drivers shall comply with all applicable laws relating to accommodation of service animals.

(d) A transportation network company may not impose additional charges for providing services to persons with physical disabilities because of those disabilities.



Featured Publications