Senate passes bill regulating Uber, similar firms in Nevada

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CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Nevada senators passed a bill Monday that would allow ride-hailing companies such as Uber to operate while raising tens of millions of dollars to help the state budget shortfall.

Senators voted 18-1 for AB175, which would create regulations for "transportation network companies" that allow people to hail a ride using a smartphone. The proposal had failed twice, including in a vote on Friday.

Democrats who voted against the proposal last week said they doubted proponents' assertion that a tax on cab and Uber rides would raise $100 million and wanted time to verify the projection.

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Aaron Ford said a newer projection showed the tax would raise about $72 million, enough to provide additional funds to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas medical school, the state Highway Funds and other budget items.

Democratic Sen. Mark Manendo was the lone no vote.

"I always have been a public safety person," Manendo said in a speech on the Senate floor. "I don't want to risk something happening to our friends, our family, our constituents and our tourists."

The bill now heads to the Assembly, where it's scheduled for a Tuesday hearing before the Ways and Means Committee.

Uber briefly operated in Nevada last fall before a judge issued a restraining order against the company, saying it wasn't following rules for taxicabs. Uber ceased operations and sought permission from the Legislature to re-enter the market under an alternative framework.

The bill has been called the most-lobbied of the session, with small armies of lobbyists representing Uber and its cab company opponents.

Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak joined Sheriff Joe Lombardo, anti-drunken driving advocates and cab operators for a news conference in Las Vegas on Monday decrying the bill and saying it circumvented the rigorous standards for cabs.

"The only reason for creating an alternative system is to weaken those standards for the benefit of one or two companies," said Brent Bell, president of the Livery Operators Association, which represents cabs and limos. "If allowed, Nevadans will pay the price in the long run."

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