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Quinn says no to statewide rideshare regulations

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[August 27, 2014]  BY BRADY CREMEENS | Special to
 CHICAGO – Ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft will continue to operate in Illinois free of the regulations proposed by the state legislation this past spring.

In what is big news for ridesharing companies and their customers, Gov. Quinn today vetoed a bill that would have heavily regulated the industry.

The bill would have imposed statewide safety, pricing, taxing and other regulations on commercial ridesharing – a system where companies primarily use phone apps to connect with customers and operate as an alternative to the established taxi companies. It also would have limited the ability for local governments to create their own regulatory policies on this relatively new industry.

The governor disagreed that the new legislation — nicknamed the “Uber Bill” after prominent ridesharing and taxi alternative company Uber — would be beneficial to the Illinois public.

Gov. Quinn said it wasn’t for Springfield to determine rideshare regulations for the whole state.

“The principle of home rule is an important one,” Quinn said in a statement. “I am vetoing this legislation because it would have mandated a one-size-fits-all approach to a service that is best regulated at the local level.”

Traditionally, transportation services are regulated at the local level, the governor’s office said, and this bill “would have limited the ability of home rule units of government to adopt alternative approaches that best fit local needs.”

Jeffrey Junkas is the regional manager of state government relations at the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America. He said his group is disappointed by the governor’s decision to squelch the legislation.

“Our goal was to create a uniform industry standard for drivers, passengers and the public,” Junkas said. “We support innovation and companies like Uber and Lyft, but killing this legislation leaves the door open to insurance coverage disputes because the rules aren’t uniform across the state.”

The legislation always faced staunch opposition from the taxi cap lobby hoping to avoid a rising competitive industry.

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Junkas testified before the House committees in favor of the legislation prior to the bill being approved for floor debate.

“This law would have represented a reasonable compromise between the various affected industries,” he said. “It’s a shame we’re back to square one now.”

The PCIAA’s main concern in supporting the law was public safety.

“We supported the provisions in the state house bills as they would have helped to prevent all Illinois drivers from subsidizing the riskier driving activities of a small number of drivers and the companies that facilitate these programs,” the group said in a statement.

In his letter to the Illinois General Assembly explaining his decision to veto, Quinn stated a firm belief that Article VII of the Illinois Constitution provides a “transformational approach to reallocating the balance of power towards local government and away from the State” and is “perhaps the most significant innovation” of the state’s Constitution.

The governor’s office cited steps Chicago is already taking to implement safety regulations amongst ridesharing companies and users, and expressed a need to keep from interfering in the local process.

The governor’s stance and veto finds itself at odds with his own Democrat Party and the Republicans alike, as the bill saw major majority approval in both the House and Senate and was sponsored by members from both sides of the political aisle.

Brady Cremeens is a reporter with the Watchdog affiliate, Illinois News Network.

[This article courtesy of Watchdog.]

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