BATON ROUGE, La. — The Louisiana House passed a proposal Wednesday to join more than 40 other states in regulating ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft, thereby expanding access and standardizing rules.
House lawmakers voted 79-12 to approve the measure sponsored by Rep. Kenny Havard. The St. Francisville Republican had argued that state regulations would allow the companies to operate in Louisiana’s smaller cities and result in more drunken drivers staying off the road.
“This in no uncertain terms will give us the opportunity to … save another life,” Havard said.
The bill, which now heads to the Senate, would have the state and local municipalities share 1 percent of each fare. Ninety-five percent of that fee would go to local municipalities, while the rest would go to the agriculture department to address overhead expenses. Airports would also be able to negotiate extra fees.
The proposal was met with opposition from representatives from New Orleans, who said their city could lose $2 million annually if the local ordinance under which Uber and Lyft operate is superseded.
New Orleans’ rate — it currently charges riders a $0.50 fee under a 2015 agreement — is the highest in the country, Havard said. Rep. Helena Moreno of New Orleans questioned that statistic, saying it is hard to verify that claim because of how opaque the ride-hailing companies are with their data.
Rep. Gary Carter of New Orleans proposed an amendment that would allow cities’ current ordinances to remain in effect if the bill passes, but lawmakers rejected the proposal.
Carter accused Uber of acting in bad faith by going to the state to void the agreement it has with the city.
“We had reached an agreement in good faith and I think it is disingenuous for them to try to (change it),” Carter said. “That’s not how we should do business here in Louisiana.”
Rep. Jay Morris of Monroe responded by accusing the city of New Orleans of gouging consumers with its high fees.
Uber and Lyft both currently operate in a handful of markets in Louisiana, including Baton Rouge, Lafayette and the greater New Orleans area.
Forty-four states either have laws for statewide regulation or recently passed bills that are awaiting a governor’s signature. Those states’ agreements with ride-hailing services vary widely.
Most states levy a fixed annual fee, while some, such as Tennessee or Florida, do not charge anything. South Carolina imposes a similar 1 percent fee, while lawmakers in Alabama are also currently considering a 1 percent fee.
House Bill 527: www.legis.la.gov