Rideshare giants Uber and Lyft are both on course for a record setting year in terms of Washington lobbying expenses as the two companies look to sway lawmakers and regulators on a bill that could force them to make widespread unwanted labor-related changes to their business models, according to a MarketWatch report.
The bill, known as the New Gig Act and sponsored by Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota and Republican Representative Tom Rice of South Carolina, would reclassify rideshare contract workers as full-time employees and address tax-related issues, according to recently released 2019 spending disclosures. The proposed California ballot initiative was submitted on Tuesday.
Uber revealed they spent $1.85 million during the first three quarters of this year alone on lobbying efforts while Lyft paid $700,000 over the same time period, an Open Secrets analysis of disclosures filed through October reports. Both company’s lobbying payments surpassed their expenditures for the first three quarters of last year, indicating an increase in efforts to influence policymakers that look to regulate the ever-growing rideshare industry.
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Meanwhile, the two rideshare companies have been busy lobbying for other measures, as well. Uber, which also has a bike-sharing venture, recently lobbied for a bill that would provide tax benefits to bike commuters and another that would help union organizers.
Lyft’s spending disclosure also revealed money spent on lobbying efforts for a bill called Sami’s Law, which was passed in May of 2019 and went into effect June of 2019. The law requires both Lyft and Uber rideshare drivers to prominently display two illuminated signs following the murder of South Carolina college student Samantha Josephson, who mistakenly entered the wrong vehicle while waiting for a rideshare car and was ultimately killed by the driver, who was not working for Lyft or Uber.
While Lyft and Uber’s lobbying spending has increased since 2018, it still pales in comparison to other companies, with Facebook spending $12.3 million this year on lobbying efforts.
Uber, which currently has a market capitalization of around $57 billion, has seen shares drop nearly 26 percent since the company went public in May. Meanwhile, Lyft, which has a $13 billion market cap, has lost about 52 percent of shares following their trading debut in March.