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County approves regulations for Uber, Lyft as pushback continues

Uber in Las Vegas

Daniel Rothberg / Las Vegas Sun

An Uber driver takes a passenger for a ride Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015, in Las Vegas.

Updated Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015 | 7:35 p.m.

“I give up with you guys,” Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak said today, frustrated with Uber and Lyft executives during what could be the last round of hearings to decide how to regulate ride-hailing companies.

Throughout the hearing, commissioners expressed frustration with Uber and Lyft officials for what they interpreted as evasive answers to their questions.

Commissioners grilled company officials as they considered two ordinances — one requiring the companies to apply for business licenses and another requiring their independent drivers to do the same.

Despite lobbying from the companies to weaken the proposed regulations, commissioners unanimously approved both ordinances.

Much of the discussion centered on a clause requiring the companies to provide the county a monthly report with the names of their drivers to ensure they are licensed. The companies proposed monitoring drivers themselves and suspending drivers not properly licensed.

Uber and Lyft asked the provision be removed, saying the driver lists are proprietary information.

“To the extent that our driver list would become public information through a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) or a public request, it would benefit our competitors,” said Jason Raddison, Uber’s general manager in Nevada.

But commissioners weren’t buying the arguments.

“I don’t understand the secrecy,” Commissioner Susan Brager said.

They questioned why Lyft was opposed to the requirement when it is already operating at McCarran International Airport under a temporary agreement that requires it to provide a list of drivers to the county Department of Aviation on request.

Uber didn’t apply to operate at the airport, partly because of the driver reporting requirement.

Taxi companies also sent representatives to today’s hearing.

Brent Bell, president of Whittlesea Bell Transportation, urged the county to keep the clause in the ordinance, noting the purpose of licensing is to keep track of drivers.

Ultimately, commissioners passed an ordinance requiring the companies to provide the lists. The companies did not say whether they would apply for business licenses under the terms passed today.

Uber and Lyft are operating in the county with temporary licenses.

Taylor Patterson, a spokesperson for Uber, said the “requirements are not permitted under state law.”

“We urge the county to stop protecting the special interests of the taxi industry from competition, listen to the people of Clark County and comply with state law,” Patterson said.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson also called the ordinance illegal and asked for an opinion from the attorney general.

“Given this most recent example of the county’s eagerness to abuse its limited and delegated power, I ask that Nevada’s attorney general, Adam Laxalt, examine the legality and constitutionality of the county’s entire business-licensing scheme,” Roberson said.

After the meeting Tuesday, Sisolak defended the ordinance, arguing that the commission’s counsel believes it is legal. Now that there is a licensing procedure for ride-hailing companies, he said Uber and Lyft will be obligated to obtain county business licenses. Sisolak said the ordinance will not go into effect for several days but that once it does, if the companies are willingly operating without licenses, the county will be forced to consult with the District Attorney’s Office to review its options. "They have to follow the rules,” he said.

Commissioners also passed an ordinance requiring independent contractors who transport goods and passengers to obtain a county business license for an annual fee of $25 and an initial application fee of $45.

The ordinance, created as part of the Uber and Lyft regulations, could also apply to restaurant and newspaper delivery drivers.

Uber and Lyft drivers must also obtain a $200 state license.

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