With just three days left in the state legislative session, it seems increasingly unlikely that Senator Wayne Fontana’s bill legalizing “transportation network companies” (TNCs) like Uber X and Lyft will become law this year.
And with a special lame duck session after the November election also looking unlikely to be scheduled, the next Governor’s opinion on the matter becomes newly relevant.
Frontrunner Tom Wolf’s campaign issues the following statement on the bill:
“Tom supports Senator Fontana’s SB 1457 and believes the new regulations should extend statewide. While he does not support a special carve-out to exclude Philadelphia, Tom would support changes within the city to create a level playing field that allows both taxis and ride-sharing businesses to compete for customers.”
There has been an interesting debate playing out within the Democratic Party on whether support for TNCs and other so-called “sharing economy” services goes with the rest of the liberal governing agenda, and the recent state-level developments suggest the opponents are losing the argument within the party.
It’s not just Wolf – up-and-coming liberal politicians within the PA Democratic Party like Center City Philly Rep. Brian Sims, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Peduto allies like (recently ousted) Rep Erin Molchany – all considered to be within the party’s progressive wing – support the bill, and multiple sources have confirmed to me that there is no significant bloc of votes against the bill within the Philadelphia Democratic caucus.
Wolf is in a uniquely powerful position, as the Governor typically enjoys deference to his appointment choices to the Public Utility Commission and the Philadelphia Parking Authority. PUC Commissioners serve at the pleasure of the Governor.