Arizona state lawmaker introduces bill to ban fees for rideshares

A bill introduced to the Arizona State Legislature would bar airport fees that are aimed at ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft.

House Bill 2817 was introduced by GOP State Rep. Travis Grantham. It is co-sponsored by over 30 other State House and State Senate lawmakers, some of which are Democrats.

According to the bill, a public body, defined in the bill as the State of Arizona, or a "county, city, town or political subdivision of this state" and any "related entity that operates a public airport in this state," may not assess any "tax, fee, charge or assessment" on a transportation network company, its drivers or passengers for services that involve picking up or dropping off passengers at a public airport.

The bill, if approved, will be applied retroactively from December 31, 2017.

Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport

The bill was introduced amidst a battle between the State of Arizona and the City of Phoenix over a new rideshare fee structure at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.

The new fee structure, approved by the City Council in December 2019, was supposed to take effect on February 1. It would have charged rideshare operators a $2.80 fee to pick-up and drop-off passengers at the PHX Sky Train Station using non-zero emission vehicles.

For pick-ups and drop-offs at the terminal curb, operators would have to pay a $4 fee, which would increase to $5 by 2024.

Currently, there is a fee of $2.66 that is only applied towards pick-ups.

"I see it as an unfair fee, and I see it as picking on one specific service," said State Rep. Grantham. Grantham represents the 12th Legislative District, who covers a portion of Gilbert and a part of Pinal County. "When something has such an effect on residents like Gilbert, where I represent, or Glendale, Tucson, or you know, Winslow, it is our job to step up."

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich

In late January, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced that he has filed a lawsuit against Phoenix over the fee structure, claiming it violates a provision in the state constitution that was approved by voters in 2018 as Proposition 126.

Proposition 126 bans the state and any government entities within Arizona from imposing or increasing any tax, fee, stamp requirement or other assessment on services performed in the state.

For its part, Phoenix city officials claim Proposition 126 does not bar communities from "conditioning access to the property on the payment of such fees."

As a result of the lawsuit, it was announced on January 22 that the City of Phoenix will not implement the new fee structure on February 1, as originally planned.

Officials with both Lyft and Uber have threatened to stop all operations at Sky Harbor if the new fee structure goes into effect.

As city officials waits for a State Supreme Court ruling, lawmakers say they can't.

"One of the issues we have is if the court wants to say 'legislature, fix it' or maybe 'this isn't what we think it means,' it becomes too late to introduce legislation," said State Rep. Grantham.

State Rep. Grantham says the issue is very personal to them.

"We have members who drive for Uber and Lyft. We have members who use Uber and Lyft. Everybody seems to be very concerned with an attack on that rideshare," said State Rep. Grantham.