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Law lets state workers use Uber and Airbnb for business travel

Law lets state workers use Uber and Airbnb for business travel
An Uber driver drops off a passenger at Los Angeles International Airport. A new law ensures that state workers are reimbursed for using Uber and other sharing-economy businesses for business travel. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Ride-sharing services like Uber and short-term home rentals like Airbnb may get a boost in business now that the state of California has made it clear that its employees can turn to such businesses when traveling for work.

Legislation written by Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang (R-Diamond Bar) and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown this month ensures that the state's 228,000 employees will be reimbursed for the cost of using the sharing-economy businesses for business travel. The legislation takes effect in January.

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State law has so far been silent on whether state employees would be reimbursed for using such services, Chang said.

The lawmaker said she hopes the new law will save the state on travel costs. Over the last three years, the state reimbursed employees nearly $110 million in travel costs.

Representatives for Chang said the amount of the savings will depend on how much workers rely on Uber, Airbnb and other sharing-economy services. But they noted that some short-term home rental businesses can cut the cost of lodging by up to half compared to hotels.

To read more about travel, tourism and the airline industry, follow me on Twitter at @hugomartin.

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