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5/2/2017 Senate passes Sosnowski bill to exempt Block Island from state’s transportation network services law
STATE HOUSE — The Senate has approved legislation introduced by Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham), that would exempt Block Island from the state’s transportation network services law that was enacted last year.

The bill (2017-S 0430) would exempt the town of New Shoreham from the jurisdiction of the Division of Public Utilities and carriers for purposes of regulatory transportation network companies, and would allow the town to establish its own regulatory framework regarding the services of those companies.

“This legislation would effectively give the New Shoreham Town Council the power to regulate transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft, requiring those companies to follow the same regulations that other taxi drivers on the island are asked to follow,” said Senator Sosnowski. “Due to the unique geography of the island, commercial motor vehicle operators are forced to limit their enterprises to a single town, which necessitates regulations that differ from the mainland or those islands that have access to the mainland via bridges.”

Those regulations, which are overseen by the town’s Commission on Motor Vehicles for Hire, include residency requirements, background checks, voter registration, a waiting list, licensing, and rates.

Last year, the General Assembly enacted legislation to create regulatory provisions for operators and drivers of transportation companies to be administered by the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers. The bill, which was signed into law by the governor in July, puts those companies under the same jurisdiction as taxi drivers, but due to Block Island’s unique regulation of buses, limos and taxis, town officials were concerned that the law would allow those companies to circumvent local rules.

The measure now heads to the House of Representatives, where similar legislation (2017-H 5650) has been introduced by House Minority Whip Blake A. Filippi (R-Dist. 36, New Shoreham, Charlestown, South Kingstown, Westerly).

For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903