By Robert Callahan, California Executive Director, Internet Association
With just a signature from California Governor Jerry Brown, California state employees who travel for business will not be confined to taking taxis and staying in hotel rooms. If enacted, AB 229, a bill proposed by Assemblywoman Ling-Ling Chang, would ensure that the state will continue reimbursing employees who use transportation network companies (TNCs), such as ridesharing services like Lyft, Sidecar, and Uber, and home sharing services, like Airbnb, while traveling on state-sponsored business. This would make safe alternatives to traditional travel accommodations an ongoing option for state workers, which can result in lower costs to taxpayers and keep state government money in the California, while also helping members of the middle class who partner with these services.
AB 229 aligns perfectly with California’s public policy priorities. Ridesharing and home sharing services are boosting California’s economy, creating new middle class job opportunities, and allowing travelers to access more affordable and convenient travel accommodations. On many occasions, travelers who use sharing economy services instead of traditional travel methods save up to 50 percent in travel costs. Like every state around the country, California has been forced to make difficult choices about how to allocate and spend its funds, and every dollar the state is able to save counts. Those savings will free up money that can be used to fund other state programs that directly benefit local communities, including investment in education and infrastructure, among others.
State employees availing themselves of ridesharing and home sharing services will also contribute to the well-being of California citizens who work in the sharing economy. For example, 48 percent of Airbnb hosts say that they use income earned from their guests to pay for necessities like home payments and food. Additionally, allowing workers to use home sharing accommodations will give state employees the ability to stay in the communities they serve alongside the very people they are serving, giving them an even deeper understanding of the needs of their citizen constituents.
We therefore urge Governor Brown to sign AB 229 into law. After all, not many bills can be touted as a cost-saver for taxpayers that simultaneously results in more take-home pay for workers.