Good Government

Jonathan Small & Trent England | June 1, 2015

Uniform State Rules Make Sense For Uber, Lyft

Jonathan Small & Trent England

No one would accept “local control” as a defense of government corruption. The purpose of government is justice—when one part of government forgets that, we look to another to step in.

Sometimes the line between out-and-out corruption and self-serving regulations is blurry. Just look at the fight over new, technology-driven car services like Uber and Lyft.

If a city official accepts money from one group of businesses in exchange for shutting out their competition, those acts would constitute bribery and abuse of power. Yet if the same city official receives political support from those same businesses and then crafts regulations that hinder their competition, what then? The politician might even self-servingly believe he or she is just trying to keep ignorant citizens from making risky choices.

In Oklahoma City, many of the officials involved in adopting regulations targeted at Uber and Lyft admitted they never even tried those services for themselves.

Unsurprisingly, the city’s new rules fail to recognize the dramatic difference between taxi services and what is offered by the high-tech upstarts.

Now the Oklahoma legislature has weighed in with House Bill 1614 (awaiting the governor’s signature as this issue went to press), a measure which would establish uniform regulations for companies like uber and Lyft across all of Oklahoma. Opponents say the idea violates “local control.” Of course, what they really want is just control.

In our constitutional system, the state is the primary level of government. Oklahoma’s state legislators have a duty to stand up for citizens against federal overreach. They have the same duty to stand up for citizens against abuses by local governments (we have written similarly about city regulations targeting oil and gas businesses).

“Local control” is often the right way to make and carry out public policy. In this instance, however, establishing statewide uniform rules for services like Uber and Lyft is the best way to expand transportation options for all Oklahomans.

Jonathan Small President

Jonathan Small


Jonathan Small, C.P.A., serves as President and joined the staff in December of 2010. Previously, Jonathan served as a budget analyst for the Oklahoma Office of State Finance, as a fiscal policy analyst and research analyst for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and as director of government affairs for the Oklahoma Insurance Department. Small’s work includes co-authoring “Economics 101” with Dr. Arthur Laffer and Dr. Wayne Winegarden, and his policy expertise has been referenced by The Oklahoman, the Tulsa World, National Review, the L.A. Times, The Hill, the Wall Street Journal and the Huffington Post. His weekly column “Free Market Friday” is published by the Journal Record and syndicated in 27 markets. A recipient of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s prestigious Private Sector Member of the Year award, Small is nationally recognized for his work to promote free markets, limited government and innovative public policy reforms. Jonathan holds a B.A. in Accounting from the University of Central Oklahoma and is a Certified Public Accountant.

Trent England David and Ann Brown Distinguished Fellow

Trent England

David and Ann Brown Distinguished Fellow

Trent England is the David and Ann Brown Distinguished Fellow at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, where he previously served as executive vice president. He is also the founder and executive director of Save Our States, which educates Americans about the importance of the Electoral College. England is a producer of the feature-length documentary “Safeguard: An Electoral College Story.” He has appeared three times on Fox & Friends and is a frequent guest on media programs from coast to coast. He is the author of Why We Must Defend the Electoral College and a contributor to The Heritage Guide to the Constitution and One Nation Under Arrest: How Crazy Laws, Rogue Prosecutors, and Activist Judges Threaten Your Liberty. His writing has also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Times, Hillsdale College's Imprimis speech digest, and other publications. Trent formerly hosted morning drive-time radio in Oklahoma City and has filled for various radio hosts including Ben Shapiro. A former legal policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, he holds a law degree from The George Mason University School of Law and a bachelor of arts in government from Claremont McKenna College.

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