With local backing, ‘Uber’ bill awaits McCrory’s signature

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New state legislation passed by both houses of the General Assembly would codify and regulate ride-share services, such as Uber. Photo by Hilary Snow.
New state legislation passed by both houses of the General Assembly would codify and regulate ride-share services, such as Uber. Photo by Hilary Snow.

With very little opposition, state legislation to regulate Uber and other ride-share services has sped through both houses of the N.C. General Assembly.

The bill would require ride-share companies to have insurance on its vehicles at all times, pay a $5,000 state permit fee and conduct local and national background checks for contract drivers.

It cleared the Senate earlier this summer, was passed 109-2 in the House last week and is now on Gov. Pat McCrory’s desk awaiting his final approval.

Uber officials say the regulations are already standard operating procedure for the company.

“Since we launched ridesharing in North Carolina, Uber has background checked all driver-partners and provided $1.5 million of insurance on every trip,” according to a release from Uber North Carolina. “This legislation codifies these requirements, affirming the safety standards we’ve had in place since the beginning, while encouraging new technologies and innovation.”

In fact, Sen. Bill Rabon, a Republican representing New Hanover, Brunswick, Bladen and Pender counties, said the legislation is something Uber actually requested. Rabon was one of a handful of key co-sponsors from across the state.

“Uber wanted to have some sort of regulation. They wanted some assurance they could do business in our state,” Rabon said in a phone interview Monday. “They wanted–and I think there should be–some rules to play by.”

Uber expanded to North Carolina and the Port City two years ago, adding in beach towns throughout Brunswick and New Hanover counties in May.

And, he added, it is an added assurance for drive-share users.

“If people are getting into an automobile for hire, they should be protected,” Rabon noted.

The measure also allows drivers to operate at Wilmington International Airport (ILM) without paying an additional fee to the airport and frees Uber, Lyft and similar companies from jumping through various city, town and county regulatory hoops throughout the area.

“This is definitely more of an urban issue at this point, but I wanted to make sure that ILM was protected,” Rabon said.

From the start, he said, the bill had strong bipartisan support.

“Whenever you have both parties strongly endorsing something, you know it’s probably needed. That doesn’t happen often,” he said. “It’s totally uncontroversial.”

If signed in law by McCrory, the bill will take effect Oct. 1.

Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at hilary.s@portcitydaily.com.