Bills to regulate ride-sharing companies advance

SACRAMENTO – Ahead of a state senate hearing on two bills that would regulate ride-sharing companies, dozens of vocal Uber and Lyft drivers and supporters rallied outside the Capitol.

Assembly Bills 612 and 2293, backed by California's taxi and insurance industries respectively, faced a hearing in the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee.

AB 612 would make ride-sharing companies follow the same regulations as taxi cab companies, including background checks for drivers and decals on vehicles.

"We have commercial insurance, we have been regulated by the city, and our cab drivers have been finger printed, they have background checks," President of the Sacramento Taxi Cab Union Kazman Zaidi said.

Zaidi attributes a 50 percent drop in business to Uber and Lyft. He said his struggles this afternoon only illustrate his point.

"This is still my first run, I haven't driven yet," Zaidi said. "It's almost four hours, so we are really suffering."

The committee passed AB 612, but stripped out the permanent decal and insurance requirements.

AB 2293, backed by California's insurance industry, would mandate commercial insurance coverage around-the-clock. Ride-sharing companies want their drivers, who provide their own personal cars, are covered by their personal insurance until they accept a ride request.

"We have a $1 million commercial insurance policy from the time a ride is accepted to the time a ride concludes," Uber representative Eva Behrend said.

But Association of California Insurance Companies President Mark Sektnan said that coverage should include when drivers are on the clock and waiting for calls.

"Personal auto policies don't cover these drivers, we don't think they realize that, we think in many ways that they are relying on their personal auto policy," Sektnan said.

Committee members passed an amended version of AB 2293, with a $100,000 coverage limit (instead of $1 million), sending it to a hearing with the Senate's Insurance Committee.

"This is a positive step in the right direction and we look forward to continuing to work with the Senate," Behrend said in a prepared statement after the vote.


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