New rules for unregulated rideshare companies such as Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar passed the Illinois House on Thursday over complaints the push was aimed at stifling competition to the state’s powerful taxi industry.
The chamber voted 80-26 to support legislation sponsored by Rep. Michael Zalewski, D-Riverside, who described his measure as a “comprehensive, thoughtful” consumer-protection step.
“We want to ensure licensure. We want to ensure insurance coverage, and we want to ensure safety of our constituents,” Zalewski told his House colleagues.
Under his plan, House Bill 4075, all drivers would be required to undergo background checks, vehicle safety checks and have commercial insurance. Those who drive more than 18 hours per week would need licenses and have to follow stricter city ordinances.
Opposition came from a mix of suburban Republicans and some city Democrats, including those who represent minority neighborhoods in Chicago that they said are now underserved by taxis.
“I’m a person from the city. I can’t get a cab at 107th Street. Everybody doesn’t have access to public transportation,” said Rep. Monique Davis, D-Chicago, who voted against Zalewski’s bill.
“We don’t want you to tie the hands of these people, charge them $25,000 a year they’re not going to make,” she said, alluding to new licensing fees ridesharing companies might have to pay. “We just want to keep this industry growing.”
Rideshare companies said the new regulations will crush their industry, which serves clients through a few taps of the finger on smart-phone applications.
“The passage of HB4075 in its current form destroys thousands of jobs in Chicago, slashes income opportunities for Chicago’s rideshare drivers, and effectively shuts down uberX in Chicago,” said Andrew Macdonald, Uber Chicago general manager, in a prepared statement.
“Today is a win for the corporate taxi special interests and a loss for the thousands of Uber users in Chicago who banded together in short order to save ridesharing in Illinois and were effectively ignored,” he said.