Regulation of ride-hailing companies such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar is making a comeback in the California Legislature this session.
Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian (D-Sherman Oaks) introduced a bill that would require all drivers working for ride-hailing companies to register their cars as ride-hailing vehicles with the California Public Utilities Commission and display decals identifying them as such.
"Ridesharing is simply high-tech hitchhiking," Nazarian said in a statement. "Rideshare companies, such as Uber and Lyft, that claim to be focused on consumer safety, should welcome and embrace the opportunity to show consumers how safe and friendly their drivers can be, while providing an affordable and technology-driven transportation service."
Nazarian had introduced a ride-hailing regulation bill last year that would have toughened requirements for background checks and made random drug testing mandatory, among other things. But that bill was defeated.
The current bill contains those provisions plus the PUC registration requirement.
Uber and Lyft opposed the original bill, arguing the companies' background checks were sufficient. Uber spokeswoman Eva Behrend said in a statement at the time that the legislation was "not about safety or consumers; it's about protecting entrenched Sacramento special interests from competition."
When reached for comment about AB 24, Behrend said in an emailed statement: "The California legislature, Governor, and CPUC debated and supported comprehensive TNC legislation last year, deciding to listen to the hundreds of thousands of riders and drivers who rely on services like Uber to connect with the people and places they love."
Mike Montgomery, executive director of technology advocacy group CALinnovates, which counts Uber and Sidecar among its partners, described the introduction of AB 24 as "outrageous" and "blatantly uncompetitive."
Assemblyman Nazarian told The Times last December that he applauds innovation but "it doesn't mean there doesn't need to be certain basic regulatory steps to be taken in order to ensure public safety."
"The requirements in AB 24 are all simple, common sense measures that any business focused on consumer safety should have no issue complying with," he said.