Uber says bill threatens its operations in Oregon

Uber criticizes a bill in the Oregon House that would mandate ridesharing companies carry commercial insurance at all times.

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Uber criticizes a bill in the Oregon House that would mandate ridesharing companies carry commercial insurance at all times.

Potential Portland customers who open the company’s app are greeted with this pop-up message:

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Willamette Week writes:

Rep. Margaret Doherty (D-Portland), the bill’s co-sponsor, says Uber’s claim that the bill would cripple its business is untrue.

“All we’re asking for them to do is to carry the primary insurance on their drivers while they are on the job,” Doherty says. “I don’t think that would keep any company out of business. It’s what everyone does. It’s what we require of everybody.”

House Bill 2995 would require Uber to carry insurance on their drivers at all times. Currently, the company only covers drivers who are transporting passengers.

Uber ended operations in Kansas last week after the state passed a similar law.

In other Uber news, the company is targeting another $2 billion funding round that would bring it to a $50 billion — or higher — valuation.

From the Wall Street Journal:

At that level, Uber could become the most valuable venture-backed startup in history. Only Facebook Inc. attained a $50 billion valuation before going public. Goldman Sachs Group arranged a private offering of shares of the social network at that valuation in 2011.

Uber’s valuation could rise as it meets with investors, the people said. A May 2014 funding round began with discussions of a roughly $10 billion valuation and closed at an $18 billion valuation. A round in December 2014 began at around $30 billion and closed at $41 billion.

Uber is now operating in about 250 markets around the world.

Meanwhile, 44 Oregon mayors wrote a letter to the state government in hopes of securing more money for transportation issues.

Portland Tribune reports:

Democrats and Republicans at the 2015 Oregon Legislature are deadlocked over a new transportation funding package. Republicans want Democrats to repeal the Low Carbon Fuel Standard bill they passed on a party line vote in the opening weeks of the session before negotiations begin. Republicans say the complicated plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will substantially raise fuel costs with providing any new revenue for Oregon roads. The letter says cities are already facing a shortfall of more than $300 million a year in their street maintenance budgets, however.

“This is not just a Portland issue. This is a priority for small towns, middle-sized communities and cities; for rural, suburban and urban residents; for conservative, moderate and liberal office holders. We are all in this together,” said Portland Mayor Charlie Hales.

The Portland Tribune published the letter in full here.

The Bend Bulletin reports Democrats in the Oregon Legislature are open to tweaking the low-carbon standards if it means Republicans would return to the negotiating table. They are hoping a renewed discussion can bring more funds for transportation issues.

But Republicans appear resolute:

“Unless (the low-carbon fuel standard) is repealed there’s not a path forward for a transportation package this session,” House Republican spokeswoman Kara Walker said.

If leaders can find a way past the blockage around clean fuels, they may be able to use the work from the 10-member group to put together a transportation proposal relatively quickly. Any package that comes together this session would be the first transportation package passed since 2009. The 2009 effort, which lawmakers say took months to work out, resulted in a bill that raised nearly $1 billion and created thousands of jobs, many of them in rural areas.