Mobile, Alabama Lawmakers Uber Mad Over State Ridesharing Bill

Published April 21, 2017

The Mobile, Alabama City Council passed a resolution opposing a state lawmaker’s proposal to standardize government licensing regulations on peer-to-peer transportation network companies (TNC) such as Uber and Lyft, popular services connecting drivers and passengers through mobile phone apps.

In March, the Mobile lawmakers passed a nonbinding resolution voicing opposition to House Bill 283, proposed by state Rep. David Faulkner (R-Mountain Brook) in February.

HB 283 would prohibit local governments from imposing taxes or licensing requirements on TNCs and would replace local laws with a standardized regulatory framework.

Statewide Standards, Standard

Faulkner says a statewide framework of licensing regulations would benefit TNC service providers and consumers alike.

“They’re all over the country, and we’d be the 40th state to have statewide legislation that would regulate and provide a statewide network for these companies,” Faulkner said. “Yes, people like to refer to them as transportation companies, but they’re really transportation network companies. When you start dealing with networks, it’s much better for the citizens of the state to have this statewide.”

Reducing regulatory complexity makes it easier for TNCs to hire drivers and serve customers, Faulkner says.

“Uber and Lyft aren’t going to keep negotiating separate contracts with all these smaller cities,” Faulkner said. “It’s just not going to happen. There’s no incentive for them to do it, and they run into more problems each time that happens, … each time a city has its own parameters and wants to say, ‘Well, we want to require this that’s different from what another city did.”

Localism vs. Reform

Andrew Yerbey, senior policy counsel for the Alabama Policy Institute, says regulatory reform sometimes requires state lawmakers to overrule local leaders.

“In most cases, we believe delegating this decision-making authority should be left to as local a level as possible, but Alabama has a problem with instituting burdensome licensing programs on entrepreneurs,” Yerbey said. “A license should always be the least restrictive means of protecting the public’s health, safety, or welfare, and that’s something that should always be kept in the front of people’s minds, because licensing is so out of control.”