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Compromise in the works for ridesharing companies

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Legislature tries to solve conflict between taxis, Uber, Lyft


TRIBUNE PHOTO: JOSEPH GALLIVAN - Uber drivers like Lexus owner Amy Hall will be affected new insurance requirements on Uber and Lyft to cover private drivers while they are connected to those transportation networks.Oregon lawmakers have advanced a tentative compromise aimed at resolving a conflict between taxicab companies and services such as Uber and Lyft, which connect people with rides in private cars through apps.

The compromise, endorsed Monday by the House Rules Committee, would impose insurance requirements on Uber and Lyft to cover private drivers while they are connected to those transportation networks. But the requirements appear similar to what Lyft says it already provides in insurance coverage.

House Bill 2995 also would set up a work group to be convened by Gov. Kate Brown to study the issue further and make recommendations by Jan. 13, ahead of the 2016 session.

The new version is aimed at resolving a conflict between the new transportation network companies and taxicab companies, which pressed lawmakers for insurance requirements to apply to Uber and Lyft.

The House Transportation Committee had moved the original bill to the Rules Committee without a recommendation.

“This is why we are at deadlock,” said Rep. Vic Gilliam of Silverton, the top Republican on the Rules Committee. “I seriously hope we can work this out, and I think we can get there.”

The bill heads to the Legislature’s joint budget committee, which would fund the study.

House Majority Leader Val Hoyle, D-Eugene, the Rules Committee chairwoman, said further changes to the bill may occur there.

Uber and Lyft were cleared in April to operate in Portland for a 120-day pilot project. Uber stopped operating in Eugene after a hearings officer concluded that it violated city codes.

“I’m pleased to see us moving ahead with a statewide bill that establishes insurance requirements and a study to help figure out how to proceed in the future,” said Rep. Phil Barnhart, D-Eugene.

Coverage is proposed at $1 million overall for the company.

For the private driver participating under Uber or Lyft, minimum coverage would be $50,000 per person for death or injury, $100,000 per incident, and $25,000 for property damage.

Private drivers also would have to meet Oregon’s current coverage requirements for personal injury protection and against uninsured and underinsured drivers.

The bill specifies that requirements can be met by any combination of insurance from the private driver and the transportation network company.

Of note are the lobbyists representing both sides. Broadway Cab is represented by Stephen Kafoury, a former Democratic senator from Portland.

Uber and Lyft do not have in-state lobbyists.

For the April 8 hearing by the House Transportation Committee, Dennis Stefanitsis, a counsel for Uber, came in from New Jersey; Rachel Stern, who represented Lyft, came in from InState Partners in St. Louis.

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