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EDITORIAL: Clark County Commission should steer clear of Uber, Lyft

The Clark County Commission deserves credit for dialing back its ongoing battle with ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft. On Tuesday, as reported by the Review-Journal’s Richard N. Velotta, commissioners rightly voted to rescind a previously approved requirement that transportation network companies provide a monthly report to the Business Licensing Department, listing the name and identification number of each person registered with the companies.

That measure purportedly was installed to ensure that all drivers are properly licensed. But such a regulation also would provide a public record that would enable the intimidation of ride-sharing drivers by unionized cabdrivers and allow Clark County’s taxi companies to pressure, discipline or even fire cabdrivers who moonlight as Uber and Lyft drivers.

So bravo to the commissioners for backing off on that requirement.

However, in a separate report, Mr. Velotta noted that McCarran International Airport — operated by the county — has the ability to license and identify drivers who pick up and drop off passengers. So the county could get access to such a driver list anyway. That’s why Uber isn’t yet serving the airport, although Lyft is.

Further, the commission also let stand its requirement that individual drivers acquire a $25 county business license annually, a proposal unanimously passed last month.

As we’ve written previously, this is nothing short of a money grab by the county, and if allowed to stand, it will surely be emulated by municipalities, piling more fees on those who wish to become drivers for Uber or Lyft. Per the bill passed by state lawmakers and signed into law by Gov. Brian Sandoval earlier this year, drivers for the smartphone-based services already are regulated more than thoroughly enough — and at enough expense — by the Nevada Transportation Authority. Uber and Lyft drivers must pay a $200 annual state business license fee, and local governments have no role in overseeing either company.

But local elected officials can’t seem to stand that thought, so they’re agitating for a piece of the pie to help supplement budget shortfalls, while also working on behest of the cab companies to throw a wet blanket on a burgeoning business here in the Las Vegas Valley — one that’s already widely utilized around the country and the world.

Comments from commissioners make it clear they want a role in overseeing Uber and Lyft, but the legislation is clear. In fact, as Mr. Velotta noted, a Legislative Counsel Bureau interpretation of the law indicated that counties and municipalities couldn’t require business licensing of ride-hailing companies. The Legislature foresaw that local governments in the valley, exceptionally protective of union interests, would try to muck up the works. And yet they’re doing it anyway, despite what the law dictates.

County commissioners should be complimented for backing down on the drivers list requirement. But they need to go further. They need to back off of Uber and Lyft completely. Leave it to the Nevada Transportation Authority, as the law was written.

 

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