White praises ‘ride share’ bill

Published 4:28 am Friday, April 13, 2018

A bill creating a statewide framework for ridesharing in Louisiana was introduced Tuesday by Louisiana House Speaker Taylor Barras, R-New Iberia, and championed by fellow legislators, local elected officials, and business leaders.

“It is time to pass statewide ridesharing legislation to ensure that all of Louisiana has access to transportation options and job opportunities at the tap of a button,” Barras said. “Currently, Louisiana is one of five states that has yet to pass such legislation and the longer we wait, the more severely it hurts our residents, tourists and businesses.”

The legislation, House Bill 749, would craft uniform rules for ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft, and would likely also expand such services to more rural areas of the state. The measure passed the House Transportation Committee on Tuesday without objection. It will now be debated on the House floor.

State Rep. Malinda White, D-Bogalusa, said one of her daughters once used a ride-sharing service to go from Baton Rouge to White Castle, but then could not return to Baton Rouge using the same service.

“Living in a rural area, there is a dire need for transportation,” White said. “And it is a big help to reduce DWIs.”

The president of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry also said he was in favor of the proposed legislation.

“Whenever possible, we owe it to the people of Louisiana to let the free market work,” said Stephen Waguespack, president and CEO of LABI. “Expanding ridesharing in Louisiana is a win/win that will put consumers in control and boost local economies.”

The bill establishes one set of rules for the operation of Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft in the State of Louisiana, replacing the existing patchwork of conflicting local regulations. The bill requires background screening standards for TNC drivers and includes consumer protection provisions that strengthen the community of riders and drivers in Louisiana, with requirements such as fare transparency, electronic receipts and ease of identification of TNC vehicles and drivers.

Last year, the state House of Representatives passed a similar bill by a vote of 79-12, but it was not given a vote in the Senate.