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uberxFollowing states like California and Colorado, Sen. Cyrus Habib (D-Kirkland) today introduced legislation that would allow on-demand transit companies like Uber and Lyft to operate legally in Washington.

SB 5550 would require transportation network companies (TNCs) to provide adequate insurance, conduct driver background checks, supply data to the state, and pay for annual permits.

Currently, TNCs operating around Washington abide by laws on a city-by-city basis. For example, in July the Seattle City Council enacted its own legislation for the TNCs after they had previously operated without regulation in the city.

Cyrus Habib.
Cyrus Habib.

Habib told GeekWire that if enacted, the state-wide legislation would supersede anything that city governments have established. That being said, he noted how his proposal includes consumer protection requirements from the TNCs that are just as strong, if not more so, than what cities have already enacted.

Habib said his team has been working for the past six months on the bill, and met with various stakeholders from insurance companies, law firms, driver representatives, and officials from cities and counties across Washington.

“This industry is in transition, and innovative new companies have deployed technology to reduce costs and improve quality for consumers,” Habib said in a statement. “We as lawmakers should do our part to create policy that marries innovation and consumer protections. This legislation will provide protections for passengers and drivers so these new transportation options can serve the public safely and fairly.”

The bill, which has bipartisan support, has minimum insurance requirements for the TNCs and forces them to cover their drivers with liability, uninsured motorist and personal injury insurance. The bill would also allow a driver to use his or her personal insurance to cover both commercial and personal use of their car if Washington’s insurance commissioner establishes regulations for a hybrid insurance product in the future.

TNCs would also be required to provide data related to number of drivers, number of rides, total hours spent driving passengers, and would need to report any accidents. Companies would be prevented from requiring drivers to sign non-compete agreements. The legislation also requires the TNCs to, “if achievable, make its digital network or software application accessible to persons with disabilities.”

Colorado enacted its own TNC laws this past June. California lawmakers did the same in September.

Habib’s full bill will be posted online in the next few hours. We’re still working through the details and will update this post with more information.

Update: Here’s the full bill:

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