What’s that old saw? When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem is a nail.
Likewise, when we send people to Carson City and call them lawmakers, they think everything has to have a law.
If I pick my phone and call a friend to ask for a lift to the store and say I’ll give him a few bucks to cover gasoline and his time, do I need the nanny state to hold my hand and make sure my friend has adequate insurance and isn’t a criminal?
The same should go for picking up my cell phone and pressing an app, such as Uber, and asking the same of a stranger.
No, Senate Bill 439 proposed 12 pages of regulations on so-called transportation network companies to put Uber and similar businesses on a more even footing with taxi and limousine companies.
In advocating for the bill, Republican Sen. James Settelmeyer strangely argued that new technology should not be stifled to protect the legacy technology — saying candlemakers shouldn’t be able to use the law to block the use of electric lightbulbs or encyclopedia publishers to block wikipedia.
“I think that it is wrong of us to consider the concept of preserving the status quo by stifling this technology,” Settelmeyer argued Wednesday on the Senate floor. “The people, the citizens of the state of Nevada, have a thirst for technology, they’re looking for this. They’re looking for the opportunity to utilize this technology, but in my opinion it needs regulation.”
Motions by Democrats to make the bill even more onerous were rejected by the Senate along party line votes.
The final Senate vote on the bill was all 11 Republicans in favor and all 10 Democrats against, but because the bill also included a 25-cent per ride fee for the highway fund it needed a 14-vote supermajority to pass. The bill’s failure means firms like Uber are blocked from operating in Nevada under current law and court rulings.
The debate got a bit acrimonious when one Democrat objected to a Republican applauding Settelmeyer’s speech. The word disrespect was bandied about in the subsequent discussion.
As with taxes, the difference between Republicans and Democrats on the issue of regulation is merely a matter of degree — harsh or harsher.
You may view the entire debate online. The SB439 part starts at about 2:06:00 of the session.