Rhode Island Lawmakers Pass Ridesharing, Drone Bills

June 23, 2016

Rhode Island’s legislature has passed a bill to legalize and regulate ride-hailing app companies such as Uber.

The legislation was among hundreds of bills passed during an all-night session that ended Saturday.

It would put Uber, Lyft and similar companies under the oversight of the state’s public utilities commission, require driver background checks, set minimum insurance requirements and establish an annual $30,000 permit for companies with at least 200 drivers.

Uber issued a statement thanking lawmakers for passing the bill.

Negotiations on the legislation between the House and Senate continued until the last hours of the session. Lawmakers dropped a driver fingerprinting requirement that Uber opposed and passed a separate bill reducing requirements for traditional taxi operators.

It now moves to Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo, who has supported it.

Among other bills that passed both chambers during the all-night session was one giving the state the legal authority to regulate drones, such as those used for delivery or photography. Rep. Stephen Ucci, a Johnston Democrat, said the legislation is meant to prevent a patchwork of competing laws in each city or town that would be hard for drone operators to follow.

Lawmakers also approved a measure granting immunity from alcohol or drug charges to college students who report dating violence or sexual assaults.

Raimondo will be getting hundreds of bills. The House of Representatives passed 273 bills between Friday afternoon and just after dawn Saturday, including bills sent to it by the Senate. The Senate passed 237 bills, including House bills. The legislation includes next year’s $8.94 billion budget.

The bills will be transmitted to Raimondo in the coming weeks, but not all at once so she has time to review them. The governor has a week to sign or veto a bill after it reaches her desk.

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