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Nevada Legislature voting on bill that may chase Uber & Lyft out of Las Vegas

Posted at 1:07 PM, May 29, 2017

The Nevada Legislature is voting on four bills that could have a negative effect on ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft.

These four bills, Senate Bill 226, Senate Bill 279, Assembly Bill 445, and Assembly Bill 487; would require ridesharing employees to obtain a business license before being employed by the company and purchase additional insurance that covers the passengers. They'd also have to obtain a Nevada Transportation Authority decal, similar to those of taxi drivers, and display it on their windshield.

SB226 passed the Senate vote by the count of 17-4 in April, which gives those who depend on these services a reason to worry. It had a hearing in the Assembly Ways and Means Committee this morning at 8 a.m.

"There are tens of thousands of drivers out there and many of them use this as their income and nothing else," said Randy Wright, who drivers for Uber and Lyft. 

Many riders we spoke to didn't support the bill, because they use rideshare services regularly. 

"I like the affordability that  Uber and Lyft provide...I can take more of those rides," said rider Veronica Price. 

Assembly Bill 487 immediately stands out because it clearly places the fate of ridesharing companies in the hand of the Nevada Taxicab Authority. 

The Las Vegas Review-Journal had a full description of the bill:

"Assembly Bill 487 allows the transportation authority, which regulates ridesharing companies, to enter into an agreement with the Nevada Taxicab Authority that allows jurisdiction over the companies and their drivers," wrote the LVRJ.

This would allow the Nevada Taxicab Authority final authority on all ridesharing rulings and effectively levy the companies powerless.

Executives at Lyft aren't taking the bill lightly.

"This amendment, attached to SB 226 at the eleventh hour without any discussion among stakeholders, would make true ridesharing in Nevada nearly impossible," said Senior Policy Communications Manager Chelsea Harrison. "Singling out ridesharing with licensing requirements not placed on any other business in the state is a blatant attempt by the taxi industry to squash competition and innovation. We strongly urge the legislature to remove this amendment and instead work toward rules that prioritize public safety and expand consumer choice."

There are more people than just the employees of Lyft and Uber opposing the bills.

“The Nevada Legislature is contemplating a radical transportation proposal that will move the state backward," said Internet Association Director Robert Callahan. "This proposed regulatory scheme is nothing more than a thinly veiled effort to recreate the old taxicab monopoly by eliminating ridesharing services from the state. If this proposal is passed, Nevada will become the only state in the nation to reject progress and better accessibility to transportation options for its residents. This proposal would limit choice for consumers and kill innovation. Carson City should instead focus on passing smart laws that will benefit all Nevadans and the state’s visitors.”

The final ruling on these four bills is expected to come at some point next week and it's possible that Las Vegas could see the beginning of severe limitation on rideshare companies.