Nevada lawmakers introduced a bill Monday that could lead to regulations specific to ride-hailing companies such as Uber after the company’s short-lived and rocky entry into the market in the fall.
The Senate Commerce and Labor Committee is sponsoring SB439, which was introduced Monday. It would create a framework to allow for so-called transportation network companies, which allow people to hail a ride using a smartphone.
The bill sets forward a number of regulations for ride-hailing companies, requiring them to apply for a special license with the state and provide insurance for drivers. The proposal also sets qualifications for drivers and the vehicles they operate.
A companion bill, SB440, creates a framework for insurance policies that cover ride-hailing services. Insurers say they want to make sure that drivers with companies like Uber and Lyft have a special level of insurance coverage whenever they are available for customers, not just when they physically have a customer in their car.
Uber briefly operated in Nevada this fall before a state judge issued a restraining order, saying the company refused to follow regulations governing taxicab companies. Uber contends it’s a fundamentally different kind of company than a cab company and needs different regulations, although taxi and limo representatives disagree.
“Uber expects special treatment so that it can operate without the rigorous oversight to protect the safety of the public and without paying appropriate licensing fees,” said Kimberly Maxson-Rushton, executive director of the Livery Operators Association of Las Vegas.
Republican Sen. James Settelmeyer, who chairs the commerce committee, said he thought it was improper for Uber to enter Nevada without abiding by regulations and said lawmakers will consider whether such companies should operate in Nevada at all.
The bill sets up a battle between powerful and monied interests. The taxi industry is a major player and frequent donor in Nevada politics, and Uber, which is based in San Francisco, has enlisted 12 lobbyists to represent it this session.