Pushes for Uber veto override vote begins in Chicago

SHARE Pushes for Uber veto override vote begins in Chicago
SHARE Pushes for Uber veto override vote begins in Chicago

Proponents of legislation that places stricter regulations on ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft made their case on Tuesday to override Gov. Pat Quinn’s veto of the measure when lawmakers convene in Springfield.

Lawmakers this week are expected to take up Quinn’s vetoes on a pair of bills that would have created statewide guidelines for ridesharing services like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar.

The clout-heavy taxi industry which is in direct competition with ridesharing businesses has pushed for the legislation. But Uber, Lyft and other companies have also poured money into lobbying efforts.

State Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Riverside, is pushing for a veto override. He said among the issues in contention is the extent to which rideshare drivers carry commercial insurance. Rideshare companies in general have a so-called “app-on” coverage, where a higher level of commercial insurance kicks in only when a passenger is in the car. Cabbies must carry the insurance at all times, to cover incidents before and after fares are picked up or dropped off.

Zalewski said statewide regulations are intended to create uniform set of standards on background checks and insurance coverage.

“We need a baseline level of regulation so that everybody will do what Uber and Lyft do so well,” Zalewski said. “We continue to want to see Uber do well because they’re an innovative company. At the same time, we have a duty to act to protect constitutents.”

Chris Taylor, general manager of Uber Chicago, said the company requires more thorough background checks on its drivers than those imposed on city taxi drivers. He also defended the rideshare insurance policies.

“The way the bill was designed, it’s not about leveling playing fields or insuring safety,” Taylor said in an interview. “It’s really about putting the brakes on rideshare and making it harder for us to grow because the taxi industry doesn’t want to deal with that.”

Zalewski said that wasn’t the case.

“Nobody wants to see Uber go away,” Zalewski said. “That being said, just because it’s popular doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pay attention … to safety.”

On Tuesday, the Emanuel administration issued Chicago’s first two “transportation network provider” licenses to a pair of San Francisco-based ride-sharing companies: Sidecar and Lyft.

“Working with industry stakeholders and aldermen, we passed sensible regulations to support innovation in this industry and ensure the safety of passengers,” the mayor was quoted as saying in a news release.

Consumer Affairs and Business Protection Commissioner Maria Guerra Lapacek said the burgeoning ride-sharing industry has provided sorely-needed transportation options.

“We look forward to working with the ride-share companies going forward to ensure that Chicago riders receive the best possible service,” Lapacek was quoted as saying.

Earlier this year, Emanuel scoffed at suggestions that he tilted the scales in favor of ride-sharing because his brother is an investor in one of the companies.

The mayor denied playing favorites after the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the Hollywood talent agency owned by Ari Emanuel, the mayor’s brother, has an ownership interest in Uber Technologies, a major player in Chicago’s ride-sharing industry.

Pat Corrigan, an owner of Yellow Cab, has branded Ari Emanuel’s ownership interest an “outrage” and the reason ride-sharing companies had been allowed to operate in a regulatory vacuum for years while siphoning business from taxicabs.

Contributing: Fran Spielman

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