First, let’s talk about what the “ridesharing bill” is. It’s HB 527, sponsored by Rep. Kenny Havard in the House and co-sponsored by Sen. Paige Cortez in the Senate. HB 527, if it were to pass, would bring Louisiana in line with the vast majority of the states around the country – some 44 of them, as it happens – in having a set of standardized rules for providers of ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft to operate within.
As it stands now, every parish has its own rules for the ridesharing companies, and there are relatively frequent attempts to ruin their business models. Next door in Texas, the loons in control of the city of Austin essentially ran Uber and Lyft out of the city with a set of rules making the service unworkable earlier this year. Consequently, a bill similar to HB 527 has sailed through that state’s legislature in this year’s session, and it awaits Gov. Greg Abbott’s signature. Uber and Lyft have both said they’ll be back in Austin as soon as Abbott signs the Texas ridesharing bill.
The bill presents a somewhat interesting thought experiment to conservatives, because for one thing we’re supposed to prefer local control to that of the state capitol. But that’s not so much of a controlling principle with respect to regulatory issues, given the usual poor performance of often-corrupt local governments when it comes to business regulation. What we want is a maximum of economic freedom, and experience shows leaving the production of that valuable social good in the hands of a Mitch Landrieu or Jamie Mayo is a fool’s errand.
Which is an argument that carried the day in the House, where the ridesharing bill sailed to passage on a 79-12 vote. The expectation was that this bill would sail fairly easily to passage.
But that might not happen. John Alario, the Senate President, pulled one of his usual legislative shenanigans when the ridesharing bill came over from the House. Rather than send the bill to the Transportation Committee, which is its obvious proper placement, it’s now going to three different committees.
Three different committees to clear with only two weeks left in the session leaves an exceptionally difficult schedule to meet for the bill to get to the Senate floor for a final-passage vote. Triple referrals at the beginning of a session are a major hurdle; at the end of a session they’re more or less a death sentence.
And the first committee the bill is going to is Judiciary A, which is chaired by Sen. Rick Ward (R-Port Allen). Jud A has a makeup which could be problematic for the bill. It’s also being referred to the Senate & Governmental Affairs committee, which is Karen Carter Peterson’s committee and a place good bills go to die, as well as the Transportation Committee Cortez chairs.
Which means a bill which is law in 44 states, almost all of which rank ahead of Louisiana in most if not all categories affected by the performance of state and local governments, and which is sailing to passage in next-door Texas, is going to be killed by the actions of Alario – who has been in the Louisiana legislature since 1972 and credibly bears much responsibility for the state’s demonstrably low rating in those categories.
In 2020, Alario will be gone, and perhaps the Senate will cease to be a place run by crooked old-school politicians doing the bidding of whoever has purchased the allegiance of its aged caudillo.