Popular ridesharing company Uber is ready to add 425 new jobs in its Chicago office – but only if Gov. Pat Quinn vetoes a bill recently passed by the Illinois General Assembly that would impose burdensome restrictions on ridesharing services and their drivers.
Some businesses tell the state government that they will only create jobs in Illinois if the state gives them a handout. But not Uber. As Crain’s columnist Greg Hinz points out, Uber has not sought EDGE tax credits, tax-increment financing or any other subsidies from the state. (EDGE tax credits allow companies that provide jobs in the state to get a break on their income taxes, while tax-increment financing, or TIF, funds are controversial redevelopment subsidies that were originally intended only for “blighted” areas.) Uber is only asking the state to stay out of its way so it can create more jobs.
The bill before Quinn would make it extremely difficult for anyone to earn a living as a rideshare driver in Chicago, as it requires rideshare companies to limit drivers to just 18 hours of work per week to avoid additional onerous restrictions.
That 18-hour cutoff doesn’t serve any public health or safety purpose – there’s no reason to think drivers become less safe in their 19th hour of driving in a given week.
The only purpose of this bill is to limit competition against the taxi industry that lobbied for this legislation.
Chicago has already passed its own ridesharing ordinance. It contains numerous anti-competitive provisions, but it’s not as bad as Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s original proposal, and it’s not as bad as the state bill.
The city ordinance would allow a ridesharing service to operate under relatively light restrictions as long as its drivers don’t work more than 20 hours per week on average. Although arbitrary and unnecessary, the 20-hour-average rule is less burdensome than the state’s 18-hour limit for all drivers. Under the city’s rule, drivers who want to work on a close-to-full-time basis may be able to do so if they are offset by drivers who choose to work only a few hours per week.
The city ordinance should also satisfy any safety concerns because, among other things, it requires driver background checks, vehicle inspections and insurance coverage.
So it’s reasonable that Uber – and anyone who cares about liberty or Chicago’s economic prosperity – would prefer the city ordinance to the proposed state law.
Quinn has no excuse for not vetoing this bill. It would kill existing rideshare drivers’ jobs, prevent Uber from creating new jobs in a city that desperately needs them and do nothing to make consumers safer than they already are.
The only reason for Quinn could have for signing this bill is to pander to the narrow but influential special-interest group that lobbied for it. If he does not veto this bill, it will tell Illinoisans a lot about where his priorities lie – and voters may keep that in mind when they go to the ballot box in November.
Click here to tell Pat Quinn to veto House Bill 4075 and allow Uber and other ridesharing services to keep creating jobs in Chicago.