Uber, Lyft legalization bill moves forward in Harrisburg

Uber, Lyft legalization bill moves forward in Harrisburg
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Supporters of Uber and Lyft ride-sharing services got a significant boost Wednesday when a Pennsylvania bill spelling out a regulatory framework for the companies moved favorably out of a House committee.

Uber and Lyft have both been operating illegally in Philadelphia and under a temporary regulatory framework in the other 66 counties of Pennsylvania. This bill, which would legalize the services and bring them under the supervision of the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) within Philadelphia County, now will move to the state House of Representatives for a full vote, and then to the governor’s desk for his signature.

It already passed the state Senate, 48 to 2.

The House Consumer Affairs Committee voted 23 to 2 to move the legislation forward.

Committee chair Bob Godshall previously called on representatives of Uber, Lyft, the PPA and Pennsylvania Utilities Commission to find a compromise by last Wednesday. While they were a week late, they seem to have met his demand.

RELATED:End in sight for Philly’s battle with Uber and Lyft?

“Times do change, technology changes, and we have to recognize it,” Godshall said after the vote.

Godshall said that after this bill is dealt with by the full house, he will also be seeking to address the concerns of taxi and medallion drivers.

“I made a commitment that I would meet with the Philadelphia delegation and the taxi groups, once we get this whole thing settled,” he said. “We will have a hearing pertaining to the taxi and medallion situation.”

In Philly, the PPA has sparred intensely with Uber and Lyft, even staging a sting in which some UberX drivers had their vehicles impounded. But PPA spokesman Marty O’Rourke said the groups participated in “numerous, numerous meetings” to hammer out the current version of the bill.

“The PPA worked with Uber and the mayor’s office the last three weeks,” O’Rourke said. “It was a compromised piece of legislation that everyone seems to be very happy with and supportive of.”

Under the current version of the bill, a 1 percent tax will get tacked onto Uber and Lyft rides, which will be split between the School District of Philadelphia and the PPA.

The bill also requires annual car inspections, $1 million of insurance liability per car, and multistate background, criminal and sex offender checks for drivers.

There may be more changes to come, Lyft and Uber proponents said, although they support the bill moving forward.

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“We want to thank Rep. Godshall for doing the nearly impossible and bringing all stakeholders together behind a ridesharing agreement that works for Philadelphia,” Uber spokesman Craig Ewer said in a statement. “While we still have serious concerns on some key outstanding issues, we look forward working with House members in the weeks ahead to resolve those concerns and establish a permanent, statewide home for ridesharing in the Commonwealth.”

Lyft spokeswoman Chelsea Wilsonechoed that sentiment.

“While there are still aspects of the current bill we are concerned with, we are glad it is moving through the legislative process and look forward to continuing the public discussion about the benefits ridesharing brings to people in Pennsylvania,” she said in a statement. “We now look to the full House to finalize this legislation and bring the bill to a floor vote.”