According to its critics, a bill currently pending in the Oregon House of Representatives could make it more difficult for municipalities to govern ridesharing activities in the state.
Per a report from KATU News, House Bill 3246 would create a “statewide transportation network” in Oregon. Uber currently only operates “in the Portland metro area and surrounding cities” according to Bryce Bennett, who serves as general manager for the transportation company in Oregon.
As coverage explains, most cities have the freedom to regulate companies like Uber and Lyft as they see fit. If ridesharing businesses fail to meet local rules and regulations—such as mandatory fingerprint background checks for drivers—they are not permitted to operate in those areas. Uber and Lyft made headlines when they left Austin, Texas entirely after the city imposed a fingerprint background check law for ridesharing services.
Instead of letting local municipalities regulate ridesharing services, the bill would impose statewide regulations on companies like Uber and Lyft, reports explain. Ridesharing companies would have to register with the Department of Consumer and Business Services, run background checks on their drivers, and ensure that each driver has required insurance coverage.
The bill is not without controversy. Dan Saltzman, the Portland City Commissioner, claims the bill would make it difficult for municipal governments to tweak policies in accordance with community needs. A state representative challenged Uber’s Bryce Bennett when he argued that Uber’s existing background checks are stronger than a fingerprint check through the FBI database. Bennett defended Uber’s checks, saying that they are “three-pronged” to incorporate driving history, Social Security Numbers for address changes and “closed court cases,” and sex offender history. Margaret Doherty, a State Representative, said she was “appalled” that Bennett didn’t think his drivers needed fingerprint background checks as well.
Per coverage, Uber officials have previously suggested that long processing times for FBI database checks would serve as a barrier to entry for drivers who might otherwise consider working for Uber.