A few weeks ago I wrote about some of the challenges that transportation network companies (TNC’s) like Uber and Lyft are facing in the California legislature. Taxi companies, Insurance Companies, and trial lawyers have all backed legislation that could at a minimum significantly increase costs for TNC’s to operate in the Golden State, and at worst–drive them out of the state altogether.
While the most egregious legislation appears to be dead for this year, there is one bill out there, AB 2293, that is of great concern to TNC’s–enough so that today Uber actually sent an email out to all of their registered users in California to enlist their aid in lobbying State Senators.
AB 2293 seeks to address the question of whether, when and how much commercial automobile insurance TNC’s must provide for their drivers. An individual’s personal automobile insurance does not cover a commercial use of a vehicle–which would include using your car to pick up and drop of paying customers. Right now there are a hodgepodge of state and local laws and regulations that set various levels of required coverage for taxi cab and limousine operators. At issue is what amount of coverage should be required by TNC’s–Insurance Companies and trial lawyers are advocating for requiring higher policy limits (which of course cost the TNC’s more to provide).
This legislation has a key hearing next week in the California State Senate’s Appropriations Committee. The insurance industry and the trial lawyers, experienced hands in the legislative process, carry a lot of heft and influence with state legislators. Companies like Uber and Lyft are very new to the process. They’ve hired some contract lobbyists, but they represent a new presence in the marketplace, and in the Capitol. Both sides of the debate have legitimate points they are making to defend their positions.
Today’s e-mail from Uber to its users represents a flexing of grassroots muscle that can be harnessed by TNC’s and their broad base of users.
With a bold headline reading in capital letters, “WE NEED YOUR HELP!” the alert from Uber goes on to say:
“It’s time to take a stand. Next week, the California Senate Appropriations Committee will vote on AB 2293, a bill that would require companies like Uber to provide 20x the insurance that taxis must carry in California. This proposed legislation is part of a backroom deal by the insurance industry, taxi companies and trial attorneys, designed to funnel more premiums and fees to these already entrenched industries.
Thankfully, we have two champions on the committee: Senator Alex Padilla and Senator Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) have defended ridesharing by opposing the drastic and arbitrary requirements proposed in AB 2293. They understand that California is the home of new technology and that ridesharing offers greater choice and flexibility for California consumers and entrepreneurs.
Join Senators Padilla and Lieu and tell the CA Senate that you support Uber in California!
We need your help. Let your representatives know that California voters don’t support laws that hamper innovation and growth simply to protect special interests.
Can we count on you to make sure that Uber has a permanent home in California? Stand with us today and contact your senator on the Appropriations Committee?”
Uber users are then urged to click on this link for a briefing on the information, and to access a tool to allow them to identify their elected legislators.
Within less than 30 minutes of sending out the alert already hundreds of Twitter users had shared the link.
It is worthy of note that because of the way the alert was written, both Senator Alex Padilla who is running for secretary of state and Senator Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) who is running for Congress benefit from some positive PR to Uber users.