Senate Majority gives Ridesharing Bill Greenlight
JUNEAU – A bill to allow ridesharing services such as Uber, Lyft, and SideCar to operate in Alaska passed the Alaska State Senate today. The bill passed by a vote of 14 to 5.
Senate Bill 14, also known as the Let’s Ride Alaska Act, improves transportation and economic opportunity in Alaska by providing clarity to the state’s insurance and workers compensation statutes.
“The Senate began this session focused on the economy,” said Sen. Mia Costello (R-Anchorage), the bill’s sponsor. “In the midst of our first recession since the 1980s, this bill creates jobs and provides a much-needed boost to the economy, at no cost to the state.”
The bill classifies rideshare drivers as independent contractors and exempts them from workers’ compensation, similar to taxi drivers.
“Rideshare drivers use their own cars and equipment, work on their own time and can even be off-duty taxi drivers,” Sen. Costello said. “Drivers can work when, where and how they want, which is why it makes sense to allow them to work as independent contractors.”
The bill also requires prospective ridesharing companies to conduct safety background checks, enforce zero tolerance substance policies and numerous other safeguards.
“The safety of our communities is a top concern,” said Sen. Costello. “We made sure important safeguards are in this bill. We also expect ridesharing services to improve safety on the roads – as they have in other states – by reducing the number of DUIs.”
Over 20,000 Alaskans already have a ridesharing application installed on their phones.
“Allowing these services to operate in Alaska is an innovative way to create jobs for Alaskans, expand transportation options and improve public safety in our state,” said Sen. Costello. “These services improve access to transportation for all Alaskans, but particularly for those living in underserved areas, the elderly and people with disabilities.”
SB 14 is now on its way to the Alaska House of Representatives.