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Uber and Lyft are spending big bucks on lobbying in California

August 24, 2015, 6:20 PM UTC
Uber Tops Taxis
Uber driver Karim Amrani sits in his car parked near the San Francisco International Airport parking area in San Francisco, Wednesday, July 15, 2015. In the three months ended in June, Uber overtook taxis as the most expensed form of ground transportation, according to expense management system provider Certify. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Photograph by Jeff Chiu — AP

It made sense when ride-hailing company Uber hired David Plouffe, President Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, last year — since regulatory acceptance is arguably its biggest challenge.

And where regulations need to be changed, lobbying efforts and money go. According to a report from Bloomberg, citing state records, Uber has spent $925,000 for lobbyists in California in the past two years, while Lyft has spent $362,000. For context, Facebook has spent $412,000 and Apple paid $353,000 in the same period.

Ride-hailing companies face a battery of regulatory hurdles all over the country and world. In California, these have centered around driver background checks, whether commercial licenses should be required for its UberX drivers (normal people using their own cars to ferry passengers), or whether drivers should be classified as employees.

While the employee status issue is currently making its way through the courts and the California Labor Commission issued a non-binding ruling last month that one former driver should have been classified as a company employee instead of a contractor, it’s won some fights in California and elsewhere. California Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian proposed a bill that would require drivers to get stricter background checks and drug tests, but the bill was shelved because of a lack of votes, according to Bloomberg. Last month, after a days-long campaign against New York City Mayor de Blasio’s proposed cap on the number of drivers ride-hailing companies can add every year, the two sides came to a compromise.