April 29, 2015

AG’s letter to PRC: Still room for improvement on Uber/Lyft regulations

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An Uber/Lyft car. Photo Credit: TheTruthAbout cc

On Wednesday morning, New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas sent a hand-delivered letter to the state’s Public Regulation Commission urging members to update regulations for ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft.

The commission’s chair says that the issues have already been addressed, though another commissioner who was critical of the rules adopted said otherwise.

The companies, also known as Transportation Network Companies, or TNCs, were added by the PRC to the list of transportation companies that are subject to state regulation last week.

In his letter to the commission, Balderas said he supported the commission’s action in adding regulations, but that he was concerned with two areas of the new regulation.

From the letter:

While I applaud reasonable oversight generally, I have concerns about two areas that may be problematic. First, although TNCs are subject to the same requirements as other motor carriers for drug and alcohol testing, the new regulations do not require TNCs to maintain records of the tests. As a result, there is not effective way to monitor whether a TNC is complying with the drug and alcohol testing requirements.

Secondly, I urge you to require additional public input in order to make the modifications necessary to ensure that the regulations both protect New Mexico residents and make it possible for companies to reasonably operate in this state.

In response, PRC Chairwoman Karen Montoya told New Mexico Political Report the commission was in the process of updating the drug testing section of the statute related to motor carriers when they received the letter. She said there was an error pointed out by the group’s general counsel after their meeting last week and the provision was added into an incorrect section. Montoya said the error was corrected during Wednesday’s meeting.

In response to Balderas’ second point, Montoya said the commission already considers public input when making decisions.

“We did do workshops on this. We had all parties come to the table and give their input,” Montoya said.

When asked whether Balderas’ concerns were addressed, Commissioner Valerie Espinoza said, “Not at all.”

She also said of the letter, “I’m glad somebody else cares about safety.”

Espinoza voted against the new rules last week, and cited weaknesses in the drug testing portion as one of a number of reasons.

A copy of the original letter is below.

 

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