Louisiana Ridesharing Bill Hits Dead End in Senate Committees

Published June 12, 2017

The Louisiana Senate Judiciary Committee tabled a bill that would standardize the state’s transportation regulations on peer-to-peer economy transportation network companies (TNCs), such as Lyft and Uber.

The Louisiana House had approved House Bill 527, sponsored by state Rep. Kenny Havard (R-St. Francisville) and state Sen. Page Cortez (RLafayette), on May 17.

After the bill was received by the state Senate on May 18, Senate President John Alario Jr. (R-Westwego) assigned the bill for consideration by three separate committees—the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee, and the Transportation Committee—effectively eliminating the bill’s chances of being considered before June 8, the end of the Senate’s session for the year.

Calls for Regulatory Uniformity

Cortez (R-Lafayette), one of the bill’s two sponsors, says TNC drivers should only have to get one license to serve consumers statewide, instead of having to deal with individual municipal governments with varying regulations and requirements.

“If you operate in the State of Louisiana, you ought to be regulated under the laws of the State of Louisiana and have to answer to basically one licensure that covers you throughout the state,” Cortez said. “Under the current situation here in Louisiana, as well as in many other states, TNCs are having to negotiate with local jurisdictions as to whether or not they can participate and their network can be utilized in the local municipalities and at what cost to the local municipalities.”

Patchwork Framework

Abhay Patel, acting executive director of the Pelican Institute, says maintaining the status quo means TNC drivers must navigate a maze of government regulations.

“We have 64 parishes in Louisiana,” Patel says. “Imagine a system in which the regulatory framework changes every few miles. For efficient operations, business owners need certainty and clarity. A municipality-driven system is the opposite.”

Standardized regulations benefit consumers and providers alike, Patel says.

“A single, statewide regulatory system with respect to ridesharing is critical,” Patel said. “Ridesharing comes in and offers an alternate form of transport with high reliability, good quality, and attractive pricing. These companies are especially valuable to the physically disabled, the elderly, and the poor.”

Qui Bono?

City governments with higher fees and more regulations benefit from the current system, Cortez says.

“Those who have the highest charges for licensure are going to be the ones who may be the losers when the state decides that you should only charge a fee commensurate with the service that it requires to maintain and provide the license for the individuals,” Cortez said. “They don’t want to lose revenue.”