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Pennsylvania State Senate
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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: January 5, 2017 02:13 PM
From: Senator Jay Costa
To: All Senate members
Subject: Transportation Network Company Protections and Parity -- Act 164 of 2016 Amendments
 
Please join me in co-sponsoring legislation to provide protections for passengers of transportation network companies.

The passage of legislation governing transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft in Pennsylvania last year was a significant achievement for consumers. Unfortunately, the new law (now Act 164 of 2016) fails to address a number of protections for drivers and passengers and economic parity for all municipalities.

It has come to my attention through a number of studies and recent news reports that these ride sharing services have turned into platforms for expressions of discrimination and racial bias. As such, my bill would require transportation network companies to adopt a policy prohibiting discrimination against drivers and passengers based on race, color, familial status, religious creed, ancestry, age, national origin, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. In other words, the company must provide services to all potential riders equally, and provide procedures by which violations of its nondiscrimination policy may be reported. To further this goal, the legislation would also prevent the driver from viewing potential passengers’ names or photos prior to providing the ride.

My legislation will also protect drivers by prohibiting a transportation network company from requiring any driver to sign a waiver of company liability for personal property losses or injury. Currently, Act 164 only prohibits such waivers if they require the driver to sign it as a condition of entering into a lease agreement. There is no justification for this distinction. My bill would cover all drivers regardless of whether they are leasing the vehicles or personally own them.

Also, this bill will provide parity for all municipalities by requiring transportation network companies to pay an annual assessment to the Public Utility Commission for rides originating in the Commonwealth. Presently, Act 164 provides for an assessment for rides originating in the City of Philadelphia, funds from which remain in the City for the benefit of its citizens. However, the bill provides no similar assessment for rides originating outside of Philadelphia. My legislation would require transportation network companies to pay an amount equal to 1% of the gross receipts from fares collected for rides originating in Pittsburgh to be used by the City for transportation capital improvement projects in the City. Additionally, it would require such companies to pay to the Commission an amount equal to 1% of the gross receipts from fares collected for rides originating in all municipalities outside Philadelphia or Pittsburgh. These funds would be transferred to the Commonwealth Financing Authority to be used for eligible programs funded by the Multimodal Transportation Fund in those municipalities outside of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Finally, the bill will remove the unconstitutional retroactive cap of $250,000 on a company’s penalty for providing services without a certificate of public convenience from the Public Utility Commission prior to the passage of Act 164 last year. In effect, the retroactive cap only applied to one company’s penalty. Pursuant to Article III, section 32 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, the General Assembly is barred from passing special legislation that is designed to benefit one company and disregard similarly situated ones. Passage of Act 164 was a result of years of bipartisan, positive work. We should not risk the future legality of such landmark legislation on a provision that would violate the state constitution.

I hope you will join me in sponsoring this legislation.



Introduced as SB375