State House lawmakers moved closer to approving state-wide regulation of personal ride-hailing services such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar that are made available through smartphone apps.
The ride service companies emerged in recent years with the advancement of smartphone technology and have gone widely unregulated until now.
The House voted 112-2 on Wednesday to approve the second reading of Senate Bill 541, which will need one more House vote before being sent to the governor.
Rep. William Brawley, a Mecklenburg County Republican, introduced the legislation on the floor, calling it a “well-vetted” bill with input from a number of stakeholders ranging from airports, banks and cities to the ride service companies themselves.
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It would require these taxi-like companies to have insurance to cover their drivers and passengers, even when the driver has no passenger but is available for rides on the app.
Additionally, the companies would be required to conduct local and national criminal background checks on the drivers and pay a $5,000 annual state permit fee.
Uber management in North Carolina has expressed strong support for the bill, saying it would ensure safe and affordable options for residents.
Those in the traditional taxi industry say the legislation still doesn’t even the playing field because they are subjected to more regulation. Many are required to have a permit for the city they operate in and must be photographed and fingerprinted.
There was no discussion Wednesday as the bill advanced to its final stages in the House.
Knopf: 919-829-8955, @tayknopf