Maryland Senate takes up Uber-Lyft bill

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland state senators took up a bill on Tuesday to address regulations on ride-sharing services,Uber and Lyft with a focus on how to protect citizens without over-regulating the industry.

Regulators and taxicab companies want Uber and Lyft to fingerprint drivers and conduct extensive background checks. Uber and Lyft oppose fingerprinting, believing it is invasive and does not yield any more information than a standard background check. The other side says it would prevent people from stealing someone else’s identity and Social Security to become a driver.

Uber and Lyft defend their background checks, whereas critics point out that the Maryland law would not give the Public Service Commission any power to punish the companies if they simply ignore the rules.

Opponents point to stories of Uber drivers assaulting passengers. And while taxi companies admit they have similar incidents with their drivers, they insist that the regulations force them to work with police in any investigation. They argue no rules prevent an Uber driver who loses his job for wrongdoing from later joining Lyft or other ride-sharing services.

Despite these differences, both sides appear to agree that Uber and Lyft are not going away, and that it would be a bad idea to drive them out of Maryland.

The Senate Finance Committee will work on the bill, and then send it over to the House Environmental Matters Committee during crossover, although there is some worry that the bill was introduced so late that the session might end without a version gaining approval.

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