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Rideshare Lobbyists Push for Laws That Hurt Passengers

Updated on November 14, 2018

Lobbyists Have More of a Say Than The Public

The months leading up to elections or right before the House of Representatives or the Senate vote on matters we hear about lobbyists talking to officials in Washington. But what does that even mean to us as citizens? Lobbyists are people paid by companies to talk with as many government officials as possible and swing their votes to favor the companies they lobby for. Major corporations do this year round on levels of government and will use any means available to them. This seems a bit shady but most things they do are perfectly legal or spun in a way to distract from the illegal side of it. This is where bribes tend to legal. Companies like Amazon, Wal-mart, Microsoft and Apple all have lobbyists chasing down congressmen trying to explain their position as quickly as possible but what companies tower over them with the numbers of lobbyists? Rideshare companies! Uber and Lyft have small armies of full time lobbyists working around the clock both in the country’s capital and the individual state capitals.

So what do the lobbyists of rideshare companies do? They run around chasing our elected government officials trying to explain how their company shouldn’t be required to adhere to current laws, that new laws are needed to protect the rideshare companies and try to pass preambles at the state level. When you think of the word “preamble” you may go back to memories of your US Government class back in school and the words “We the People.” However, in government today, preamble applies to laws passed that either limit or eliminate lower levels of government to go against it. Such as, there are laws passed on a federal level that gives local or state governments control on certain matters such as medical and recreational use of marijuana. While the state may make a preamble to their laws regarding the same usage. The state preamble can make the state government have control of where dispensaries are allowed rather than the local governments. Locals can’t vote to bring in or kick out dispensaries because local government has no control. Same goes for rideshare issues in the capitals today.

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Preambles are Hidden From Locals

Rideshare companies are pushing for preambles to be passed on state levels to insure that the companies cannot be pushed out of local markets by voters or officials. Preambles take away the rights of the local populations and gives absolute control to politicians higher up. In many cases preambles don’t get much notice by the public. But why do they push so hard for state wide rulings on rideshare companies and the way they conduct business? Local “for-hire” laws!

For-hire laws pertain to taxis, limos, shuttles and similar but since these laws have been on the books and around for decades they do not make any reference to rideshare companies. By wording them as rideshares and not allowing street hails, all fares must originate through an online app. This prevents most law makers and politicians from calling them what they are…. For-hire transportation companies. Their lobbyists and lawyers keep pointing out the “letter of the law.” Laws haven’t caught up to technology and many fear making a leap from the letter of the law to interrupting the laws. To change the laws and adjust for advancements in technology there are several steps that need to be followed and that takes time. By companies pressuring politicians and law makers at state levels they can prevent or delay local for-hire laws from including rideshare companies or putting local regulations on them.

Laws Do Not Apply, Anymore

Taxis, limos, shuttles and others in the category of for-hire vehicles have to adhere to local laws for every part of the country. Some are city mandated while others are by county but they all still remain local jurisdiction. Some states do have minimal laws in place such as state mandated drive time limits or commercial insurance minimums but those laws as with all others do not pertain or cover rideshares. The flaws in the able for laws to change or progress with the changes in technology and availability make it easy for rideshare companies to slide in undetected and aid in the creations of laws to protect the companies. These laws are much different than the laws we see for taxis. Laws, especially local laws and ordinances, for taxis and taxi companies protect the drivers, or independent contractors, as well as the passengers. These laws set regulations about fees that can be charged, mileage cost and how drivers conduct business. These regulations are there to insure that drivers are fair and passengers are not being ripped off. Just because it is a busy time of day or an event in the area attracts a lot people, drivers cannot charge more for the same service as they would during an off time. None of the preambles being passed at the state level make reference to increased fare cost during busy times. These increased fees are called “surge pricing.” Surge pricing is illegal when it comes to for-hire vehicles.

Who is Really Safe?

Laws and local ordinances are put in place to serve two purposes, to protect the individual and protect an entity, such as a business. The preamble laws that are being blindly put in place at the state level do not protect the individual at all. They simply add in basic background checks and mandatory personal insurance for drivers but nowhere do they stipulate anything about charging fair fees, safety of passengers or regulations to prevent or deter unprofessional-ism by rideshare company representatives such as their drivers.


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