Connecticut would set mandatory pay levels for drivers working for rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft under a bill advanced Thursday out of the legislature’s Labor and Public Employees Committee.
The committee approved the proposal on a partisan vote during a lengthy afternoon meeting. The bill would require the companies to pay their drivers either $1.30 per mile and $36 per hour or at least 85% of each fare, not including fees, taxes and tips.
The legislation comes as Uber, Lyft and Doordash drivers have rallied around Connecticut, hoping to build support for better compensation.
During the meeting, Sen. Julie Kushner, a Danbury Democrat who co-chairs the panel, said the proposal was an attempt by Connecticut policymakers to ensure adequate labor conditions for workers within a gig economy driven by new technologies.
“As these new technologies develop and workers are subject to those new technologies [we need to make sure] that we also as a state are moving forward and adopting reasonable and sensible laws that will regulate those industries as we’ve done for generations,” Kushner said.
Several Republican members of the committee spoke in opposition to the bill. Rep. Tim Ackert, R-Coventry, said the bill’s minimum pay levels were generous and threatened to increase costs for people who rely on rideshare companies.
“That’s not cheap,” Ackert said. “I’m going to be a driver.”
Sen. Rob. Sampson, R-Wolcott, said the proposal would “regulate the pants off of this industry in a way that, I think, will just kill it.”
“It blows me away. I sit here and I can’t even believe that we are in America and there is a bill in front of us that is going to tell this private company to tell a willing independent contractor how much they have to pay them,” Sampson said. “It does not belong in this country.”
The bill also proposes reciprocity agreements with neighboring states as well as a provision requiring transparency for both drivers and passengers as to how much each ride will cost and where that money will go.
The bill will now head to the state Senate, where Sampson promised a lengthy debate if it is raised for a floor vote.