Uber

California State Senator Doesn't Want You to Think His Brothers Running a Taxi Company Influences His Bottling up Bills that Would Make Things Easier for Uber Drivers

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Uber and other companies in its ridehail space have learned, as I've written, that to be is to lobby.

But lobbying your state legislature can get tricky when important committee leaders have family members in the very businesses you are busy out-competing.

The Los Angeles Times reports today about how two bills that would make life easier for Uber drivers are being held up in Senate committee by Sen. Ben Hueso, chair of the Senate's Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee.

Hueso's brothers Alfredo and Jose Hueso just happen to run a cab company, USA Cabs, in San Diego who have sued to force Uber drivers to do something that one of the bills would exempt them from doing: register for commercial license plates.

The other bill Hueso is blocking from going for a vote, after passing the Assembly with almost no opposition (a single "no" vote between the two bills), "would allow rideshare companies to carpool, picking up multiple passengers with different destinations at the same time."

Sen. Hueso has long seemed to have an interest in legislating for his family's interests:

Three years ago while in the Assembly, Hueso introduced a bill to classify taxi drivers as independent contractors instead of employees of cab companies. The distinction matters because companies generally have to give their employees more generous wages, provide more insurance and meal breaks and allow for easier attempts to unionize among many other work rules.

Hueso has said his bill was motivated by a multi-year lawsuit against his brothers by drivers who argued they should have been treated as employees, not contractors. The bill never went anywhere.

While supporters of the bills in and out of the state legislature are frustrated Hueso won't even let a vote happen, Hueso wants you all to know that it's really not what you think:

"If you're going to write a story saying I'm doing this for my brother," he said, "it's going to be wrong."

Well, we'll never know what really goes on in a senator's heart, I suppose.

Steven Greenhut wrote earlier today on California attempts to pass laws that would allow Uber's contractors to unionize.

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8 responses to “California State Senator Doesn't Want You to Think His Brothers Running a Taxi Company Influences His Bottling up Bills that Would Make Things Easier for Uber Drivers

  1. I’m as shocked as Louis Renault.

    1. Your winnings, sir.

  2. The only real hope for a libertarian moment is advances in tech that allow things like Uber, novel ways to bypass the oppressive, bureaucratic strictures on economic activity. Unfortunately, the bureaucracy does not oppress us because it is inept; it oppresses us because the power to oppress yields real rewards in the crony economy. So when tech allows us to bypass a set of strictures, the thugs simply institute new strictures. Shutting competition down is the reason for the regs not a side effect.

    1. People can use technology to bypass the oppressive, bureaucratic strictures of economic activity, but it doesn’t really help companies do it. Business status is granted by the state. Sure, people can negotiate a vacation rental through the Thrifty Nickel or on Craigslist by browsing ads in ALL CAPS and calling dodgy cell phones and meeting in parking lots. The state will never stop that.

      But if a company wants to set up a centralized presence, hire employees, and create a formalized clearing house for renters trying to connect with rentees, provide a system for vetting the two through crowdsourcing, and perhaps create a system for financial guarantees for people who register with the site, establish their company with a bank and pay taxes, the state can very bring the hammer down and force people back into dealing with each other on a 1:1 basis on the Thrifty Nickel or craigslist.

      Illegal cab services have been in places like New York for years. But it’s an individual driver that hits the streets and offers rides to people standing on the sidewalk hailing a cab. There’s a difference.

      1. The third option is a decentralized app that isnt based around a for-profit company.

  3. I’m guessing Sen Queso is a dhimmicrat.

  4. We await Reason’s expose’ of the Hertz Foundation

  5. Everone here in California knows we have the most corrupt, incompetent politicians anywhere. The worst money can by.

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