New Mexico House panel OKs proposal aimed at regulating ride-booking companies Uber, Lyft

A measure aimed at regulating ride-booking companies like Uber and Lyft in New Mexico cleared its first hurdle Thursday.

The House Transportation and Public Works Committee voted 8-3 to approve a proposal that would require such services to provide insurance and conduct rigorous background checks on drivers.

Rep. Monica Youngblood, R-Albuquerque, and Sen. Phil Griego, D-San Jose, are sponsoring the bipartisan legislation as state officials wrestle with how to respond to the expansion of such smartphone-based services that connect people seeking rides with people who have cars.

The measure advanced by the committee contained changes worked out with insurance companies, which said they would cover drivers once the drivers have agreed to pick up a customer, Youngblood said.

The approval came a day after New Mexico regulators tabled a decision to allow Lyft to operate in the state while lawmakers debate the future of such companies.

Last year, the Public Regulation Commission ordered the San Francisco-based Lyft to cease operations in Albuquerque.

PRC Commissioner Patrick Lyons said he supported the legislation because regulators need guidance on the expanding technology in the transportation industry.

"The PRC wants to step up to the plate and regulate these companies," he said.

However, Ruben Sanchez, a representative for some New Mexico cab companies, said the proposal still lacked some needed safety requirements.

"It does nothing on vehicle checkups," he said.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed a measure earlier this month to allow ride-hailing companies to operate in that state. Before the state passed the bill, Virginia had allowed the companies to operate under a temporary agreement since this summer.