TRENTON — New Jersey legislation to regulate ride-hailing businesses like Uber and Lyft is finally law. Gov. Chris Christie signed the much-debated bill on Friday, along with a companion piece eliminating the state's 7 percent sales tax paid by limousine operators. The ride-hailing law regulates companies like Uber, Lyft and Gett that use a digital network to connect riders and drivers.
Under the law, the New Jersey Attorney General's Office will decide within six months if the criminal background checks performed by the companies on would-be drivers are sufficient, or whether the New Jersey State Police should be required to perform the checks.
The background checks had been one of the biggest challenges in crafting the legislation.
The new law also requires the companies to carry a minimum of $1.5 million in automobile insurance coverage and pay an annual $25,000 permit fee to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission.
Christie said the legislation would allow the businesses to operate safely in the Garden State.
"This legislation makes it easier for this innovative business model to conduct businesses in our state, creating earning opportunities for our residents and providing transportation services that are already in high demand," Christie said in a statement. "This law ensures app-based ride servers abide by safety and service standards, protecting riders, motorists and our roadways through common-sense drug, alcohol, inspection and background screenings, and requiring adequate insurance policies."
Assemblyman Troy Singleton, D-7th of Palmyra, was among the bipartisan sponsors of the legislation, which was approved by the Assembly and Senate in late December after undergoing several revisions.
On Friday, Singleton said the final legislation was a balanced compromise.
“Ride-hailing companies provide a valuable service for individuals who may not otherwise have access to transportation, and clearly their business model is effective,” he said. “This law is aimed at striking a balance that makes public safety the first priority while also allowing transportation network companies to continue innovating.”
The move to eliminate the sales tax on limousine services was intended to help keep those businesses operating and competitive.