Even as a New Mexico court battle looms over regulations for ride-sharing services, a Boston-based lawyer is taking the two main ride-sharing companies to court over a separate issue in California. Earlier this week Business Insider reported that attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan filed suit against Uber and Lyft, the two largest ride sharing services. At issue is whether drivers for the two companies should be classified as employees or contractors. Currently, drivers work as independent contractors. In a phone interview with New Mexico Political Report, Liss-Riordan said her suit is different from the regulation battles in New Mexico and other states, but both issues relate to how the two companies do business.
Public Regulation Commissioner Valerie Espinoza has been an outspoken critic ride sharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, getting separate rules and regulations from cab companies. She has said her biggest concern is the safety of New Mexicans who get rides from these companies. Recently, the PRC ruled that these companies, known as Transportation Network Companies, would have to abide by rules written by the PRC in order to continue operating in New Mexico. Lyft viewed the regulation as too much and Uber is still in the middle of a legal battle with the commission. Espinoza was the only member of the PRC to vote against the new regulations, but because she didn’t think they were extensive enough.
The ridesharing company Uber filed a motion on Monday requesting the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission to reconsider an action to regulate the company. In the motion, a local subsidiary of Uber argued that the PRC unfairly grouped Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) into the same category as taxi and limousine companies. Hinter-NM, LLC, in the motion, said if the commission creates more regulation for companies like Uber and Lyft, the should recognize a TNC operates differently than other transportation services. From the motion: The Transportation Network Company (“TNC”) regulations adopted by the Public Regulation (“Commission”) are fundamentally flawed. The Commission should reconsider rules because they are “unlawful, unjust, [and] unreasonable.” The full motion is available at the bottom of the post.
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.
A bill to allow the Public Regulation Commission to regulate ride-sharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, passed the House on Thursday after an hour-long debate. “What this bill does is it will set a framework that allows the PRC to promulgate rules,” Rep. Monica Youngblood, R-Albuquerque, said. The bill referred to the companies as transportation network companies. “We look at the benefits of Uber and Lyft and other transportation network companies and they reduce DWIs across the state, create more jobs for independent contractors, provide more options for how people can get around our states,” Youngblood said. The bill passed on a 56-8 vote.