Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner on Tuesday urged Gov. Pat Quinn to veto a bill that would provide oversight of the largely unregulated industry of ride-sharing, including requiring drivers of companies such as Uber to have commercial insurance and possibly a chauffeur’s license.
Rauner’s economic interests include stock in one of Uber’s investors, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Uber’s backers also include Google Ventures and California-based venture capital firms.
A Rauner spokesman said the candidate’s position on Uber isn’t motivated by his Goldman Sachs interests but rather “about creating jobs in Illinois and giving riders more transportation options and competitive fares.” He said Rauner is “not an investor in Uber.”
The Illinois House has sent Bill 4075 to the governor, according to the Web site of the Illinois General Assembly. Quinn’s office didn’t provide an immediate comment early Tuesday afternoon on whether Quinn would sign the bill.
Rauner said regulations on the ride-sharing industry, including such companies as Uber, should be “relatively limited.”
“We need less business regulation in Illinois, not more,” the former private equity firm executive said.
“Our kids use it a lot,” Rauner said Tuesday morning while about to step into an Uber car – a 2005 Toyota Camry with 200,000 miles on it -- whisking him to 5044 S. Wabash for a campaign stop about early childhood education. “There are a lot of neighborhoods in Chicago where there aren’t cabs.”
Uber has “done a great job in so many cities,” Rauner said. “We should look at what regulations have been put in place in other cities.”
He said some level of background checks for ride-sharing drivers “probably does make sense.” So does a certain level of insurance, though he didn’t have any coverage minimums in mind.
The bill’s proponents include the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, which said it believes that “the governor may well take his full time to review given the strong interests involved in the bill.”
The trade group urges Quinn to sign the ride-sharing legislation to create a statewide standard and close insurance coverage gaps, thereby protecting “drivers, passengers and the public,” said Jeffrey Junkas, regional manager of state government relations.
But Rauner said he believes that the primary goal of the bill is to “block competition.”
“It protects cab drivers,” Rauner said.
Mara Georges, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Transportation Trade Association, a trade group representing the taxi industry, said the legislation is “simply focused on making sure all Illinoisans have basic consumer protections whey they step into a car for hire.”
“Customers have the right to know their driver has passed a comprehensive police background check and drug test and carries sufficient insurance in case of an accident,” she said, expressing doubts that ride-share companies can regulate themselves.
“It is unfortunate that Bruce Rauner would side with Silicon Valley multi-billionaires and venture capitalists, rather than Illinois consumers,” Georges said.
The Illinois economy, however, should celebrate competition because “that’s what drives quality,” Rauner said. “Companies like Uber and Lyft and Sidecar -- we should have an environment here for them to grow.”
Illinois has become a state hostile to business. Uber wants a regional headquarters in Chicago that would have more than 400 employees, Rauner said, but such regulations might scare it away.
Rauner’s Uber driver was Schaumburg resident Mohammed Meghani, 43. He has been driving an Uber car since December and bought a used Camry in 2013 for $5,500 for strictly that purpose. He has 20 to 30 Uber customers a day, and it’s his primary way of making a living for him, his wife, a stay-at-home mom, and their three children, ages 14, 11 and 7. Meghani said he had most recently worked in the banking industry, for Chase and earlier for Bank of America and LaSalle Bank and Bank of Lincolnwood.
Meghani said he doesn’t oppose background checks or an insurance requirement for Uber drivers.
But, chimed in Rauner during the ride, “The legislation goes beyond those issues.”
For example, it requires chauffeur licenses for drivers who work more than 18 hours a week, Rauner said.
“That’s just a restraint of competition,” Rauner said. “That shouldn’t be necessary.”
The fare from Rauner’s Loop campaign office to the stop on South Wabash came to $13.92, but after a 25 percent summer discount, it was $10.44, including tip.
The way that Uber works: Consumers download and Uber app and set up an account. The Uber app finds the location via GPS, and the user selects “set pickup location.” The consumer chooses a desired car type, then taps request, and Uber finds the nearest available driver.
Tribune reporter Bob Secter contributed
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