On the last day of the constitutionally-mandated legislative session, the Senate gave final approval Wednesday to a bill that would open the door for ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft to do business in Alaska.


Throughout the legislative session, lawmakers have debated the balance of power between municipal and state regulation over drivers and the industry.


In March, the Senate passed SB 14, which designates Uber and Lyft drivers as independent contractors — exempting them from workers’ compensation, like taxi drivers. Ride-sharing companies lobbied for the change in state law as a condition for their operation in Alaska.


But the Alaska Municipal League became a vocal opponent of the measure because of concern over local control.


A House version of the bill passed Monday aimed for compromise by allowing communities to “opt-out” of ride-sharing operations. On Wednesday, the Senate unanimously approved House Bill 132, which also specifies that drivers must be at least 21 years of age.


The measure now heads to Gov. Bill Walker’s desk. If he signs it, the bill takes effect immediately.


Following the vote, Scott Coriell, the Corporate and Policy Communications Manager for Lyft, released the following statement:


Lyft commends the Alaska legislature for passing this important legislation. This bill will increase mobility, spur economic activity for local communities, allow Alaskans to earn extra income, and enhance public safety.


We’d like to thank Senator Costello and Representative Wool for their extraordinary work to get this bill through the legislature and to the Governor’s desk.


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