A bill prompted by the murder of a New Jersey woman cleared the U.S. House Wednesday, requiring Congress’ investigative arm to probe the ride-sharing sector.
The bill would require the Government Accountability Office to review ride-sharing passenger and driver assault and abuse, driver background checks, and state and local laws requiring them. It would also examine ride-sharing, taxi, and for-hire vehicle safety measures.
Businesses could no longer sell Uber and Lyft driver signage unless authorized by the corporations.
Sami’s Law honors Robbinsville’s, Samantha Josephson. In 2019, the 21-year-old University of South Carolina senior Josephson was slain after getting into a car she thought was her Uber.
2021 murder conviction for motorist Nathaniel Rowland.
Rep. Chris Smith, R-4th Dist., said on the House floor that Sami’s Law is needed. “I question my colleagues: Do any of us really think Uber and Lyft ridesharing is safe, especially for women?”
Majorities of both parties voted 349-80 to pass Sami’s Law with several additional bills. Smith and all 10 New Jersey House Democrats voted yes, while Rep.
Jeff Van Drew, R-2nd Dist., voted nay.
The Senate may incorporate the bill in an omnibus budget plan to finance the government through Sept. 30, 2023.
This current version was weaker than Smith’s first plan, which passed the House in July 2020 but never got a Senate vote, and the one he submitted in February 2021.
Smith removed a clause mandating ride-sharing vehicles to have digital passenger-driver verification systems before the bill reached the House floor this week. He called Lyft and Uber Technologies’ stance “mind-boggling.
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According to OpenSecrets, the two ride-sharing businesses spent $2.7 million lobbying the federal government in the first nine months of 2022.
“We continue to take action and invest in technology, policy, and partnerships to make Lyft as safe as it can be,” the business said following the vote.
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“We applaud the Josephson family and Rep. Smith for passing Sami’s law.”
“In Sami’s name,” Smith said during the debate, “we act to protect ride-share customers and their drivers and we take a crucial first step to defend others from unfathomable anguish that Seymour and Marci now endure.”
“The Josephson’s have shared their heart-wrenching experience firsthand with so many of us on Capitol Hill,” said floor debate leader Rep. Greg Stanton, D-Ariz.
“Throughout their grief, they have been devoted to working so no other family will have to go through this sort of anguish and that millions of individuals who utilize ride-hailing services may do so safely.”
In 2019, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a Sami Josephson-named law requiring ride-sharing vehicles to have lit signage and digital barcodes.