Too often, our government rushes to action on problems that it does not need to solve. Instead of taking a step back and fully considering not only the situation before them, but also the effects both intended and otherwise that any new law or regulation may have, they hastily put together a bill and rush it through the legislature before it ultimately becomes law.
Through this process, we’ve seen a host of new and unnecessary government regulation take shape that reaches too far into private enterprise, and we are unfortunately seeing the same story unfold once again.
At the end of July, through a voice vote with no documented objection, the House of Representatives gave its approval to a new bill called Sami’s Law. This bill, which is named for a college student who was tragically killed by someone impersonating a rideshare company driver, would require these companies to take enhanced steps toward allowing drivers and riders to verify each other’s identity, and even goes so far as to establish a new advisory council under the Secretary of Transportation dedicated to these issues. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a similar bill into law just last year.
Well-meaning as this legislation may be, it is yet another case of new government regulations that are both unnecessary and will create new roadblocks for private industry.
As with any other regulation, new administrative actions come with new administrative costs. These costs are borne by companies, and eventually find their way to the consumer in this case: rideshare passengers. Given the robust administrative structure this bill would put in place (the aforementioned advisory council would be in place for a minimum of 12 years), this will only make these types of convenient services more expensive and less accessible.
In addition, many of the fixes that this law prescribes are already well underway thanks to the initiative of ridesharing companies. In addition to the information that they have traditionally provided like a driver’s name and photo as well as their vehicle’s license plate number and other details many companies are pioneering new ways for passengers and drivers to be sure the person they are about to get into the car with is truly the one the app has matched them with. One new feature, for example, allows riders to opt in to a PIN number system, which both parties need to confirm before their trip can begin.
This, of course, is in addition to a whole host of other safety features that ridesharing companies already implement which allow riders to instantly contact local authorities if they are in immediate danger, or flag potentially dangerous drivers to the company if they feel in any way threatened. Many also require full background checks for anyone applying to drive for the company.
With these types of safety innovations, it quickly becomes apparent that there is little need for government interference. Ridesharing companies, like many other industries, are constantly evolving and coming up with new ways to best meet the needs of both their customers and those who work for them. This is just another instance where evolution is best left to the free market rather than the halls of Congress.
Sami’s Law is a bill crafted with the best of intentions. However, its passage would also be accompanied by plenty of changes that were not intended and which will ultimately have a negative impact on all involved. For precisely this reason, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would be wise to avoid bringing this bill to the floor in its current form. He has always been a proud champion for traditional conservative beliefs, and I have full trust that he will recognize that this bill simply does not live up to those ideals.
• Todd Johnson is a Republican State Senator in North Carolina who also serves as a member of the North Carolina Board of Community Colleges.
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