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County considers licensing for ride-hailing drivers

Clark County commissioners are considering a proposal that would require drivers of ride-hailing companies to get individual business licenses.

Commissioners on Tuesday introduced an ordinance with that requirement. A public hearing and vote on the measure is planned for Nov. 17.

Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak, who is seeking the requirement, said drivers of the ride-hailing companies are independent contractors and should be treated as such.

Under Sisolak’s proposed ordinance, each driver would have to pay a semi-annual fee of $50, or $100 a year. County business license officials could suspend or terminate licenses of drivers who have a change in their driver’s license status or vehicle registration, but don’t notify the county within 30 days. Other reasons include a change in driving or criminal history.

With state licenses in hand, ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft recently started operating in Southern Nevada without a county business license, defying county officials who say the companies need to have a business license and permit. In the eyes of state regulators, the companies are on firm ground, regulated by the Nevada Transportation Authority.

Such transportation network companies enable the public to purchase transportation services from contracted drivers who have been screened by those companies and use their personal vehicles to offer a ride for a fee.

County officials will vote Oct. 20 on an ordinance putting in place a business license process for ride-hailing companies and permits for operating at McCarran International Airport.

The relationship between the county and ride-hailing companies is strained, following a September meeting when company officials declined to directly answer inquiring county commissioners on the question of whether they need a county business license. The two companies started operations later that day.

In statements on Tuesday, company representatives pledged to continue working with the county.

“We have participated in hours of meeting in good faith with the county and we remain committed to a solution,” Uber spokeswoman Eva Behrend said in a statement.

“We continue to be committed to working with the commission to find a way forward,” Lyft spokeswoman Chelsea Wilson said.

Contact Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2904. Find him on Twitter: @BenBotkin1

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