Georgia Lawmaker Proposes Restrictions on Uber, Other Ridesharing Companies

Published February 27, 2015

A Georgia lawmaker has introduced a bill to restrict popular ridesharing services such as Lyft and Uber from operating in the state.

House Bill 224, by state Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell), would require ridesharing drivers to purchase taxicab license medallions and would place additional regulations on drivers.

Filling Consumers’ Needs

Georgia Public Policy Foundation president Kelly McCutchen says ridesharing companies such as Uber benefit consumers.

“It’s a wonderful example of how innovation is meeting consumers’ needs,” he said. “Atlanta, like many cities that grew up after the horse-and-carriage era, is not a very dense city. Transit is a real challenge for people who don’t have cars. That last mile has been a huge challenge for us, and these car-sharing applications have really served to meet a need that allows people to not get stranded by public transportation.”

McCutchen says Uber has helped solve the city’s transportation problems.

“In Atlanta, we can’t just hail a cab,” he said. “There aren’t cabs, like in New York, just all over the place. Getting a taxi was inconvenient; you didn’t know if they were going to show up or not. Being able to track it on your phone, being able to have a larger supply of vehicles,… all of that has been a huge benefit to consumers, in solving our transportation problems in here in Atlanta.”

Who Benefits from More Rules?

McCutchen says incumbent firms, such as taxicab companies, stand to benefit from additional regulation on the transportation market.

“Special interests of the incumbent companies provide a lot of that incentive,” he said. “There are legislators that are truly trying to look after consumer safety, in terms of insurance coverage and background checks, but many of these providers already provide background checks of their drivers, and they have insurance in place.

“We want to make sure that, if there are any regulations, it is a very low floor,” McCutchen added.

Jesse Hathaway ([email protected]) is managing editor of Budget & Tax News.