As County Council members continue to tweak a set of bills to regulate companies like Uber and Lyft, lawmakers in Annapolis could propose legislation that would preempt the debate.
It appears a state senator from Baltimore is ready to propose a bill that would create new regulations for app-based ride services similar to those recently enacted in D.C. and Virginia.
State Sen. Bill Ferguson could introduce a bill similar to one that was withdrawn last year, which would create a set of licensing and background check requirements for Uber drivers separate from those imposed on taxi cab companies.
That bill, if passed in this year’s General Assembly, would likely preempt the County Council from regulating Transportation Network Companies such as Uber, according to a Council staff report prepared for Friday’s Transportation Committee worksession.
The committee will also have to wrestle with regulations being considered by the state’s Public Service Commission.
On Thursday, the Public Service Commission announced that it had approved a settlement with Uber over its UberBlack and UberSUV services.
The settlement doesn’t cover Uber’s more popular UberX service. Last week, Uber said the PSC is considering new rules for UberX that would “stifle our ability to operate, and make convenient rides less reliable and more costly.”
“The proposed regulations are more restrictive to TNCs than the recently passed laws in the District of Columbia and Virginia. Key provisions of the proposed regulations include: (1) a requirement that each TNC obtain a permit from the PSC; (2) a requirement that each TNC driver obtain a for-hire driver’s license, which requires a fingerprint-based criminal background check; and (3) insurance requirements that are identical to other passenger vehicles-for-hire,” wrote Council attorney Josh Hamlin.
“Should the regulations be adopted as proposed, the PSC regulations would apply in Montgomery County,” Hamlin wrote. “While the regulations would arguably not preempt the County’s ability to regulate TNCs as providers of taxicab service, they would overlap any County TNC law and create a duplicative regulatory regime.”
The Transportation Committee, led by Roger Berliner, is set for another worksession on the bills on Friday afternoon. The focus of the session will be on fees taxi cab drivers must pay taxi companies to lease vehicles.
The worksession is set for 1:30 p.m. in Rockville.
Flickr photo via Mike