PORTLAND, Maine — Lawmakers have enacted new statewide insurance requirements sought by the ridesharing company Uber, which has upended the taxi industry and raised employment law questions in areas where it operates.
The new rules in Maine set standards for ridesharing services and prevent municipal or county regulation of their operations. Ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft manage a network of drivers who pick up fares through a smartphone application.
The new law sets insurance and safety requirements for ridesharing services, which Uber hailed as “a win for riders, drivers and cities across Maine.”
The company has come up against existing law in some cities, both for avoiding the registration required of taxi companies and by classifying workers as independent contractors and not employees.
A California state court ruled last month that Uber was wrong to classify an employee as a contractor, a decision the company has appealed and argued does not have broader effect for the international startup valued at more than $40 billion, according to Reuters.
The company last year started service in Portland and this summer began operating in a number of seaside towns, providing a seasonal service that could continue throughout the year. The company began operating in Bar Harbor, Kennebunk, Ogunquit and Old Orchard Beach this summer.
The company previously worked with Portland officials to propose local regulations for the ridesharing service and earlier this year turned its focus to getting legislation passed at the state level.
The ridesharing legislation, LD 1379, cleared the House Tuesday by a vote of 138-1, with 12 members absent and Rep. Martin Grohman, D-Biddeford, opposing the bill. The Senate voted unanimously for the new regulations to become law.
The governor had vetoed the bill after the Senate sent it to his desk June 16. The bill was sponsored by House Democrat Henry Beck of Waterville.
The law, enacted as an emergency bill, became effective immediately after passage Tuesday.