Uber couldn’t find acceptable regulations at Boise City Hall, so it took its case just two blocks away to the Idaho Capitol.
It looks like the company will get its way there.
Members of the Idaho House voted 56 to 12 to approve a statewide set of rule for companies like Uber and Lyft, innovative transportation companies that operate somewhat like taxis, but argue they need different regulations for their business models.
Rep. Joe Palmer, R-Meridian, told colleagues the bill would create a statewide set of rules, which he believes is necessary for a company that operates across several local government jurisdictions.
“It seems to be a really good system,” Palmer said of Uber and the proposed regulations.
The rules include thresholds for background checks, some auto safety guidelines, plus a provision preventing cities and counties from regulating the companies.
Rep. John Rusche, D-Lewiston, asked lawmakers to reject the bill because it rips away local control.
“This appears to be an aggressive usurpation of the role of cities or counties,” Rusche said. He also said he sees the background check requirements as insufficient.
In closing debate, Palmer rejected Rusche’s arguments, telling members Uber’s background investigation go further than even Federal Bureau of Investigation checks, on which many local governments rely.
“It’s going to be a much safer person I’m going to be riding with in Uber than a taxi,” Palmer said of the checks.
Uber has been tussling with Boise over regulations since it set up shop in the Treasure Valley last October. Boise wants Uber to operate under rules written for taxis, while the company says the regulations are overreaching and arcane and not applicable to its modern business model.
After fighting for months, Uber ended its service in Boise earlier this month on the same day the Legislature started discussion on Palmer’s measure. The company still operates in other Treasure Valley cities, including Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell and Kuna.