Legislation to make it legal for Lyft and Uber to operate everywhere in the state of Oregon was introduced in the Legislature yesterday, again with provisions that would strip away Portland's ability to regulate the ride-hailing companies.
House Bill 3023, whose chief sponsors are State Rep. Susan McLain (D-Hillsboro), Representative Brian L. Clem (D-Salem) and Rep. Janelle Bynum (D-East Portland), would keep key Portland requirements around insurance and background checks while applying them statewide.
An attempt to pass the bill two years ago was scuttled, in part by Uber's scandals that year.
McLain, who serves on the transportation committee, did not sponsor the previous bill, and her support could mark a change in how the bill fares in Salem.
Lyft officials say that the bill has many of the same safety standards as the city of Portland put in place and provided a fact sheet on the bill.
"This legislation will ensure that the safety standards and rules that currently only allow ridesharing to operate in select cities to be in effect across Oregon," says Lyft spokeswoman Lauren Alexander in a statement.
But city officials are strenuously objecting to the approach that would remove the city's ability to regulate the companies.
Marshall Runkel, chief of staff to City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, says that city officials met with key Lyft officials on Wednesday.
"We conveyed that the city was surprised and disappointed that the legislation preempts local authority," says Runkel. "Lyft's social innovation and spirit of cooperation have distinguished it from its competition and won market share in Portland. We expressed our desire to continue to work together toward a positive outcome and promised to arrange a call directly with our bosses ASAP."
City officials argue that Portland is the place where Uber and Lyft will have the most business and the potentially the most impact on traffic and transportation, meaning local authorities should have a say in how the companies operate.
The state law would preclude future changes to existing requirements around insurance, and preclude the city's ability to collect data on the companies or to issue fines. And it would also prevent the city from passing any future fees or taxes on the companies.
"Drivers could come from all around the state to work here (where 95% of the business is) without having to be locally permitted," says Noah Siegel, interim deputy director of the Portland Bureau of Transportation. "We would no longer be able to do in-house investigations to protect customers."