The West not yet fully won for ridesharing
Unsurprisingly, some states have all but settled on a framework for regulating the insurance coverage for TNCs, while others are just beginning to work on legislation. While late-coming states will have the benefit of the wisdom won through extended negotiations by the parties elsewhere, they must act quickly if they hope to provide the legal certainty necessary for the speedy introduction of new insurance products.
The Legislature in Santa Fe adjourned without passing any TNC legislation. On the penultimate day of the legislative session, after passing the first chamber by a large margin, a New Mexico Senate committee scuttled the taxi-opposed measure without a vote. Now, for the first time in 60 years, there is talk of the need for a special legislative session.
Wyoming, in spite of having TNCs in state, also took no action before adjourning this session.
Active, but quiet, legislation
In Alaska and Oregon, ridesharing legislation has been introduced, but has been slow to move. In the far north, that is likely to change in the coming weeks. Session ends in Juneau in late April. Lawmakers in Salem have until July.
The Alaska bill is notable because, in its current form, it defines TNC activity exclusive of “Period 1” – when the app is on, but no connection is yet made. Both S.B. 58 and H.B. 120 read: “A person is performing TNC services…when the person accepts a request for transportation…” Alaska will be an interesting near-term test of how TNCs and insurers work together in the wake of their public agreement.
Oregon cities have been busy waging war on TNCs. Portland has banned ridesharing outright and Eugene recently sued Uber in an effort to achieve a similar outcome. Meanwhile, other more scandalous matters have preoccupied Oregon’s state government.
Two legislative vehicles, one supported by insurers and another supported by cabs, are vying for attention in the same committee. At the moment, only the insurer-backed bill, H.B. 2237, has been scheduled for a hearing.
Active and moving legislation
Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada and Washington are in the midst of pitched battles in various committees.
After Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a TNC-backed bill last year, legislators in Phoenix have taken the unusual (and R Street-preferred) step of crafting insurance requirements for TNCs while simultaneously revising insurance requirements for cabs. Changes that were made in the Senate will require concurrence (another vote) in the House. But with all stakeholders more-or-less satisfied, H.B. 2135 has a good chance of becoming law.
In Hawaii, SB 1280 is scheduled for hearing this week. The bill would designate the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission as the industry’s regulator, a development that would do away the state’s hitherto confusing system of patchwork regulation. Though TNCs currently oppose the bill, there is reason to believe that further amendments will be forthcoming that will reflect the national compromise.
Montana’s TNC legislation, S.B. 396, is based on the national model and is now awaiting hearing in the second house. Time is of the essence, because the legislative session comes to a close at the end of the month.
Nevada – home to Las Vegas, one of the least friendly ridesharing environments in the nation – is working on legislation that could significantly improve its score on our RideScore evaluation of transportation-for-hire environments. S.B. 440 and its non-insurance concomitant seek to create a framework for TNC operation. Cab operators, who have outsized influence in Nevada, are flocking to Carson City to voice their opposition.
Legislation in Olympia that requires insurance coverage from “app on” has moved to the House floor after encountering opposition from its own author. S.B. 5550, which at one point embraced heightened local regulations, has been narrowed to address only insurance issues. At the moment, TNCs continue to oppose the bill because they believe that it goes beyond the national compromise.
Idaho’s Legislature has passed a bill (H.B. 262) that is now sitting on its governor’s desk. The bill comes just in time to resolve an ongoing conflict between TNCs and the city of Boise, which suspended its effort to regulate ridesharing, pending passage of the state law.
Laws in place
On the final day of March, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed S.B. 294 and made Utah the latest state to adopt a sensible model for ridesharing regulation.
Last year, in California and Colorado, legislation that defines TNC activity and makes determinations about the appropriate amounts of insurance coverage during the various so-called “periods of activity” became law. Colorado’s legislation went into effect Jan. 1, while California’s will come into effect on July 1.
Though insurers and TNCs have differing opinions about the quality of the two laws – insurers prefer the California approach and TNCs prefer the Colorado approach – the introduction of a regulatory framework in each state has created the certainty necessary for the filing and introduction of TNC-specific insurance products.