Uber, Lyft soon will be legal in Virginia

After a yearlong ban, Uber, Lyft and other app-based ride-sharing services soon will have a law allowing them to operate legally in Virginia.

The House of Delegates on Friday joined the Senate in passing a bill that would set licensing requirements for such services’ drivers. The legislation is similar to an interim agreement approved by state officials last August after the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles sent cease-and-desist letters banning the taxicab-like service from the state.

The House voted 67-28 in favor of HB 1662, sponsored by Del. Tom Rust, R-Herndon.

“Uber, Lyft and other transportation network companies provide a transportation service that Virginians clearly like to use,” Rust said. But he wants to make sure users feel comfortable and safe.

“When the governor signs it into law, Virginians can take advantage of this new technology with assurance that reasonable safety and liability measures are governing its use,” Rust said.

Under his bill, drivers would have to be at least 21 and undergo background checks that examine their criminal history, driving record and sex offender status. The bill also requires that drivers purchase liability insurance with at least $1 million in coverage.

The companies would be required to pay an initial licensing fee of $70,000 and then $3,000 every year thereafter.

On Tuesday, the Senate passed a companion measure – SB 1025, sponsored by Sen. John Watkins, R-Midlothian. The two bills still must be reconciled: The House will now consider SB 1025, and the Senate will consider HB 1662. Then final legislation will be sent to Gov. Terry McAuliffe to be signed into law.

House Speaker Bill Howell was pleased that legislators from both sides of the aisle could agree on regulations for ride-sharing services. “It was important that we got this bill right, and the bipartisan support in today’s vote is a testament to the hard work that so many put into it,” he said Friday.

Apps like Uber and Lyft allow users to indicate their pickup location and destination on their smartphones. The company’s drivers see this and can decide whether they want to pick up the customer. Depending on the number of drivers in the user’s area, someone can arrive for pickup in a matter of minutes.

Like Virginia, states across the country are wrestling with how to regulate these “transportation network companies.” Taxi drivers say the services threaten their livelihood, because nearly anyone who owns a car and can pass a background check is eligible to be a driver. This, in turn, can flood the market – hurting business for cab drivers.

Del. Tim Hugo, R-Centreville, co-sponsored HB 1662. “Improving transportation for Virginians takes more than just building infrastructure,” he said. “It requires us to embrace new technology to better meet citizens’ transportation needs.”

An analysis of the legislation by the Virginia Department of Planning and Budget estimated that it will cost $640,000 to regulate the ride-sharing services during the first year and $440,000 annually after that. But the fees paid by the companies and drivers will cover the costs, the department said.

– Kevin Lata is a reporter for the Capital News Service.
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Henrico Master Gardener training program accepting applications through Oct. 27

The Henrico County Office of Virginia Cooperative Extension is accepting applications for its next volunteer Master Gardener training program, which provides instruction in all aspects of horticulture.

Applications for the 2018 training program will be accepted through Friday, Oct. 27. Classes will be held from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays from Jan. 16 through March 22. > Read more.

Henrico Schools to host Oct. 30 job fair

Henrico Schools will host a job fair Oct. 30.

The event, to be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fairfield branch library, is designed to attract potential full-time and substitute registered nurses, instructional assistants, bus drivers and school nutrition workers. > Read more.

Henrico Police to participate in ‘Tip a Cop’ Oct. 21

Henrico County Police Division and the Virginia Division of Capitol Police are participating in “Tip-A-Cop” to Support the Special Olympics Saturday, Oct. 21.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. that day at Red Robin, 11784 West Broad Street, members of the two agencies will be working for tips as a donation to the Special Olympics. > Read more.

Participants sought for ‘Walk to End Alzheimer’s’

The Richmond Walk to End Alzheimer’s will be held Saturday, Nov. 4, at Markel Plaza in Innsbrook, and the Alzheimer's Association of Greater Richmond is seeking participants.

The event, one of three walks the association will hold in its service area this year (the Middle Peninsula-Northern Neck walk was held Oct. 7 and the Fredericksburg walk Oct. 14) raises money to help the association fight the disease, which affects more than 26,000 people in the metro Richmond region. > Read more.

Fairfield meeting Oct. 25 to focus on cybersecurity

Henrico County Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman and Fairfield District Supervisor Frank J. Thornton will hold a constituent meeting Wednesday, Oct. 25 to discuss cybersecurity.

Thornton also has invited candidates who will be seeking election to local offices on Tuesday, Nov. 7 to introduce themselves. > Read more.

Henrico Business Bulletin Board

October 2017

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Varina Library will host a Halloween Horror Side by Side of “Psycho” from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The group will view the original 1960 film “Psycho,” directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock, and the 1998 American horror film of the same name, directed and produced by Gus Van Sant, side by side. For details, call 501-1980 or visit http://www.henricolibrary.org. Full text

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