PHOENIX — Among the major issues left to cover at the Arizona Legislature before the session ends is how to regulate the increasingly popular ridesharing programs like Uber and Lyft.
The contentious debate has pitted traditional taxi companies against the new tech startups that use mobile apps to connect drivers with customers looking for a ride.
The Senate on Monday is expected to debate a bill that aims to regulate Uber and others. The bill is opposed by those who say it does not hold ridesharing companies to the same standards required of traditional taxi and limo operations.
Meanwhile, Uber and Lyft have launched an aggressive social media campaign urging users to support the legislation by Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson.
A Melvin amendment to House Bill 2262 would require ridesharing programs to provide a minimum $1 million insurance coverage for drivers and to conduct a criminal background and driver’s license checks. It would also require cars driven by Uber employees to be inspected annually.
But the bill would exempt Uber from regulations that apply to taxi drivers and would prohibit cities, counties and towns from enacting their own regulations. The amendment does not require the companies to provide insurance coverage at all times that a driver is on the job, as many in the insurance and tax company industry believe they should.
Sen. Bob Worsley, R-Mesa, supports regulating ridesharing companies and said the bill was pulled from consideration this week because the changes that Gov. Jan Brewer’s office wanted to see in insurance coverage and drug testing for drivers were not ready.
“I’m a big believer in innovation and sometimes disruptive innovation comes in and really changes things and makes things more convenient and cheaper,” Worsley said Friday. “So I’m supportive if we can get through safety issues and make sure drivers aren’t under the influence, aren’t drug users, and that insurance is in place so that people are covered if there’s an accident. It’s that simple.”