Capitol Report: Uber and Lyft on pace to hit records with lobbying spending

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Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. are each on track to set records in their annual spending on Washington lobbying, as the two ride-hailing companies aim to influence policy makers on labor issues and other matters.

Uber UBER, +0.06% has disclosed shelling out $1.85 million in this year’s first three quarters to lobby U.S. lawmakers and regulators, while Lyft LYFT, +2.93% has spent $700,000 over the same period, according to an analysis of disclosures filed through October. Each company’s lobbying spending exceeds its outlay in 2018’s first three quarters.

Uber and Lyft’s 2019 disclosures indicate they’ve lobbied the most on a bill known as the NEW GIG Act. The legislation’s supporters say the bill would provide clarity on which workers are independent contractors rather than employees, as well as address related tax issues.

The bill, sponsored by Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota and Republican Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina, covers an area that has been a big focus for Uber, Lyft and other on-demand companies. These companies on Tuesday submitted a California ballot initiative that would change a new state law that aims to reclassify contract workers as full-time employees. The state law’s author, Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, has blasted the proposed ballot measure as “disingenuous.”

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Other bills that have drawn lobbying in 2019 from Uber, which has a bike-sharing business, include a measure that would provide a tax benefit to bike commuters and a measure that would help union organizers. Besides the NEW GIG Act, the other bill that Lyft has disclosed lobbying on this year is Sami’s Law, which seeks to improve signs on rideshare-app vehicles after a college student’s fatal Uber mixup.

Uber and Lyft didn’t respond immediately to requests for comment. While their lobbying spending is rising, the sums involved fall well short of the outlays by bigger Washington players. Facebook Inc. FB, -0.14% alone, for example, has shelled out $12.3 million in the year to date trying to influence lawmakers and regulators.

Read more: In the gig economy, men are most likely to turn to ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft after a job loss

And see: Lyft’s stock falls even as ride-hailing giant bolsters outlook

Shares in Uber, which has a market capitalization of about $57 billion, have fallen about 26% since the company’s trading debut in May, while shares in Lyft, which has a $13 billion market cap, have lost about 52% since their March debut.

This is an updated version of a report that was first published on Oct. 31, 2019.