Ride sharing companies will have to obtain state licenses, under a bill signed into law by Governor Scott Walker.
The Republican governor’s office announced late Friday night that he signed the bill, which passed the legislature last month with broad bi-partisan support. In a statement, Walker said that support “highlights the importance of providing affordable transportation options for all our citizens while maintaining strict safety measures.”
The bill creates a statewide licensing program for so-called Transportation Network Companies (TNC), such as Uber and Lyft, which connect with riders using mobile apps. It requires those companies to conduct background checks on drivers, prevent sex offenders and habitual traffic offenders from driving for them, and sets some requirements for how they connect with passengers. Supporters of the legislation argue it will make it easier for the company to enter smaller markets in the state by providing consistent regulations across communities.
The legislation comes as TNCs have clashed with local leaders in Madison and Milwaukee. Madison Mayor Paul Soglin urged Walker to veto the measure after two women recently reported sexual assaults by Uber drivers. The company would not turn over the identity of the suspects without a subpoena, and Soglin argued an already adopted city ordinance would do more to protect consumers by having drivers also register.
The bill preempts local ordinances adopted in Madison and Milwaukee
Walker sought to address some of those concerns by directing the Department of Safety and Professional Services to create rules that will ensure “that DSPS has the ability to obtain the information necessary to hold individual drivers accountable and preserve public safety.”