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The Real Driver Behind Quinn's Rideshare Regulation Veto

Mike/anotherpintplease via Flickr Creative Commons

Rideshare services have scored a win against Chicago's taxi industry in a battle that began in the legislature and moved on to the race for Illinois governor. Gov. Pat Quinn this morning vetoed a plan that would have established statewide regulations for the on-demand driving service, that let passengers call for rides via smart phone apps.

The minimum wage and what to do about Illinois' income tax are big campaign issues in the race between Gov. Pat Quinn and his Republican rival Bruce Rauner.

No surprise: these sorts of policy issues will have a big impact statewide.

What may not be as obvious --- particularly downstate where services like Uber and Lyft aren't available -- is where ridesharing fits in.

And why Rauner would go out of his way to publicly pressure Quinn to reject rideshare regulations.

"I think it's one of the few times the Springfield set does something that affects young, upwardly mobile people," says Rep. Mike Zalewski, the Riverside Democrat who sponsored the measure. "It identifies with a very specific subset of a demographic that people are always looking to motive more."

Motive them to vote.

The rideshare companies had threatened (including in ads citing Quinn by name) cutbacks if the measure were to become law. Leading up to an election, who'd want to be the candidate known for taking away a popular service like Uber?

There are other politics at play as well: the brother of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who in a statement praised Quinn for his "thoughtful approach," is a key Uber investor.

Further, Uber executives had promised job expansion in Chicago, and tossed out the prospect of expanding to areas including Bloomington-Normal, Champaign-Urbana and Springfield ... but only if Illinois held off with the regulations.

Not to mention the loads of lobbyists hired by Uber and Lyft to steer Quinn in their direction (including Quinn's former Chief of Staff, Jack Lavin), though the taxi industry and consumer advocates likewise loaded up on lobbyists.

Quinn makes no mention of any of this in his veto message; he says it's because the measure went too far in stripping municipalities of local control.

Zalewski says he takes Quinn at his word, but he disagrees with the governor’s argument. He says it's about safety.

Zalewski says he'll speak with other supporters to decide if there's the will to try to override the veto.

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.
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