It’s official. Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has signed into law a bill legalizing rideshare operations in Maryland.
The Uber bill authorizes the Maryland Public Service Commission to regulate Uber, Lyft and other app-based ride services operating in the state. Hogan’s signature makes Maryland the latest jurisdiction in the region to set regulations for the growing industry, ending months of uncertainty about its future in the state.
Hogan signed this and nine other “economic development and job creation” bills. The law will go into effect July 1.
Erin Montgomery, a spokeswoman for Hogan, said the governor commends the bill’s sponsor and other lawmakers for bringing together stakeholders “to develop a bill that creates a forward-thinking framework for bringing transportation network services and more jobs to our state. The Governor will proudly sign this bill into law.”
Uber, which is now operating in 57 countries, has been actively pushing cities to pass new laws that will get the car-sharing service out of the legal gray area in which it still operates in many places. So far, more than 40 jurisdictions have adopted rideshare regulations, according to Uber. The Maryland law brings the industry into compliance with permanent rules that classify the app-based car services in a different category than traditional taxis.
“We applaud Governor Hogan for following in the footsteps of 18 other states and moving ridesharing legislation across the finish line, permanently securing more jobs and transportation choices for all Marylanders,” Uber spokesman Taylor Bennett said. “We look forward to continuing to provide safe rides and the economic opportunities they create for many years to come.”
Rideshare and traditional taxi and sedan companies support the legislation. They say it provides a comprehensive regulatory framework that ensures reliable insurance protections and safety for the public.
Under the law, the public service commission will regulate the new transportation industry, and issue licenses to the companies and their drivers. The companies must prove they have a stringent background check system that requires fingerprinting of all drivers. Additionally, they would need to have insurance policies that protect consumers and other drivers.
Although taxi companies had opposed an earlier version of the bill, they voiced support after several changes were incorporated. Yellow & Checker Cab of Baltimore said the legislation closes many insurance gaps not addressed under existing Maryland law and reforms existing taxi and sedan statutes to promote “fair competition” and “a more level playing field.”