Uber bill gets more vetting after rocky trip through Senate

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CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Nevada Assembly members aired their concerns Tuesday about a bill that would regulate ride-hailing companies such as Uber, a day after the measure finished its rocky trip through the Senate with an 18-1 vote.

The Assembly Ways and Means Committee held an informational hearing on AB175, although the bill doesn't need a vote of approval from the panel.

"I think we had a lot of good discussion on the policy and the numbers," said Democratic Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton, whose questions to cab companies focused on wages for taxi and Uber drivers. "I think they have really valid concerns about public safety and about good jobs, and those are the things you have to get out on the table and vet."

The bill would create regulations for "transportation network companies" that allow people to hail a ride using a smartphone, and imposes a 3 percent tax on cab or ride-hailing company trips. The proposal failed two votes of the Senate before passing, with Democrats ultimately supporting the bill and the estimated $72 million in revenue it would provide toward a budget shortfall.

On Tuesday, Uber proponents argued that the company would provide transportation for underserved residential areas outside of tourist districts, and flexible jobs for residents. Opponents in the cab industry said the alternative regulatory framework for ride-hailing companies lowers the bar for public safety.

Democratic Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick said she was concerned that ride-hailing companies could poach cab business and affect tax revenue flowing to the state.

An analysis from financial advisory firm Hobbs, Ong & Associates predicted ride-hailing companies could reduce the Nevada taxicab market by at least 30 percent, resulting in about 1,800 lost jobs and $208 million in negative economic impact. Those estimates are based on taxi industry officials' observations of ride-hailing's impact in other markets.

Hobbs acknowledged some of the impact would be offset by gains in jobs with ride-hailing companies, but said the number was difficult to quantify.

Republican Assembly Majority Leader Paul Anderson said the bill will come up for a vote of the full Assembly when proponents can round up the two-thirds majority needed to pass it.

"They're obviously operating successfully and It's not some fly-by-night operation," Anderson said about ride-hailing companies after the hearing. "We still need to balance those folks that are established and are serving our community."

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