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Ride-share regulations pass House despite outcry from industry

Ride-sharing companies including Lyft (pictured) crosshairs taxicab industry its political allies Chicago Springfield fired back Thursday.  | Associated Press

Ride-sharing companies, including Lyft (pictured), in the crosshairs of the taxicab industry and its political allies in Chicago and Springfield fired back Thursday. | Associated Press

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Updated: April 10, 2014 11:08PM

SPRINGFIELD — New rules for unregulated ride-share companies such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar passed the Illinois House on Thursday over complaints that the push was aimed at stifling competition with the state’s powerful taxi industry.

The chamber voted 80-26 to support legislation sponsored by Rep. Michael Zalewski, D-Riverside, who described his measure as a “comprehensive, thoughtful” consumer protection step.

“We want to ensure licensure. We want to ensure insurance coverage, and we want to ensure safety of our constituents,” Zalewski told his House colleagues.

Under his plan, House Bill 4075, all drivers would be required to undergo background checks and vehicle safety checks and have commercial insurance. Those who drive more than 18 hours per week would need licenses and have to follow stricter city ordinances.

Opposition came from a mix of suburban Republicans and some city Democrats, including those who represent minority neighborhoods in Chicago that they said are now underserved by taxis.

“I’m a person from the city. I can’t get a cab at 107th Street. Everybody doesn’t have access to public transportation,” said Rep. Monique Davis, D-Chicago, who voted against Zalewski’s bill.

“We don’t want you to tie the hands of these people, charge them $25,000 a year they’re not going to make,” she said, alluding to new licensing fees ride-sharing companies might have to pay. “We just want to keep this industry growing.”

Ride-share companies said the new regulations will crush their industry, which serves clients through a few taps of the finger on smartphone applications.

“The passage of HB4075 in its current form destroys thousands of jobs in Chicago, slashes income opportunities for Chicago’s ride-share drivers, and effectively shuts down UberX in Chicago,” said Andrew Macdonald, Uber Chicago general manager, in a prepared statement.

“Today is a win for the corporate taxi special interests and a loss for the thousands of Uber users in Chicago who banded together in short order to save ridesharing in Illinois and were effectively ignored,” he said.

The plan now moves to the Illinois Senate.

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