Lawmaker Praises Choice in ‘On-Demand’ Market - Asks for Regulation Hearings

By Eric Scheiner | February 4, 2016 | 3:40pm EST
Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) (AP Photo)

( - Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) has pressed for a hearing on the regulatory implications of the “sharing economy”, which includes companies like Uber and Lfyt.

On Wednesday, Johnson submitted a letter urging the Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust to convene a hearing to address the impacts of the new economy.

“The sharing economy has served as a transformative force for increased competition, lower prices, and greater choices for consumers,” Johnson’s letter states.  “Also referred to as the gig, access, peer, and on-demand economy, the sharing economy broadly describes intermediary platforms that facilitate consumer transactions online.”

“Sharing platforms have created new competition in existing markets by removing barriers to entry, as well as opening new channels for competition in markets that have been underutilized altogether.”

Later in the letter Johnson expresses concerns about the on-demand economy, “Notwithstanding these benefits, there has also been a substantial public discussion on whether this new model is entirely in the public interest.”

“Ross Eisenbrey, vice president of the Economic Policy Institute, also suggests that this market has shifted the costs associated with traditional workers to independent contractors, who lack vital protections and benefits that workers typically enjoy.”

A Lyft Inc. driver does some business in California (AP Photo)

“Others have similarly argued that the unregulated entities enjoy competitive benefits over the established market, which “typically has a regulator that can cease the established market’s operation through traditional command-and-control regulation, such as a local government’s abatement processes under building codes, food codes, and so on,” Johnson later adds.

“Without question, the sharing economy presents multiple novel and complex policy questions involving consumer safety, regulation, and competition policy. The Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust, which directly exercises jurisdiction over these matters, should convene a hearing to thoughtfully examine these questions.”

You can read the full letter sent to the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Chairman of the Subcommittee Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) here.

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