Senate passes bill that brings ride-sharing business to Upstate New York

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The state Senate has passed a bill to bring ridesharing to Upstate New York.

The bill, sponsored by insurance committee chairman, James Seward, provides a framework for companies like Uber and Lyft to expand outside of New York City.

The bill cuts taxes for the service, with hopes it will lead to more demand, and make it more attractive for the businesses to operation. The measure also includes background checks for the drivers, but not a fingerprinting mandate.

This Senate bill differs from the Executive Budget proposal by significantly cutting the taxes to be paid by ride-share customers to make it more attractive for businesses to operate here.

While the Executive Budget includes a tax of 5.5 percent on rides that begin outside of New York City, the Senate’s measure cuts that tax to 2 percent and does not subject rides to the 4 percent state sales tax.

That new revenue would go directly towards infrastructure improvements for roads, bridges, and county transit needs.

The president of the Upstate Transportation Association released the following statement:

“Today’s vote was a waste of time on a one-house bill that will never pass the Assembly. By refusing to support fingerprint background checks, the senators who approved this bill have gone soft on public safety, tarnished their legislative records and capitulated to Uber’s high-priced lobbyists.

“Assembly leadership has already set a key precedent on ridesharing by opposing efforts to repeal the SAFE Act upstate. The reality is that gun safety laws are only effective when they provide the same vital protections across the state – not only in New York City.

“The same rule must apply to fingerprint background checks that are already mandatory for Uber, Lyft and other ridesharing companies in New York City. As Governor Cuomo has said – when it comes to ridesharing, what’s good for downstate is good for upstate.”

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