The State Worker

Bill protects new travel options for California state workers

State employees on official business could be reimbursed for using Lyft or Uber for rides and Airbnb for lodging, according to a legislative proposal.
State employees on official business could be reimbursed for using Lyft or Uber for rides and Airbnb for lodging, according to a legislative proposal. Associated Press file

California law would catch up with the “sharing economy” under terms of a bill that requires state government allow ride-sharing services and Airbnb-type rentals for state business.

While nothing prohibits the state from reimbursing employees for those expenses, the advent of web-based alternatives to taxis, car rentals and hotel rooms is not specifically addressed anywhere in the law or labor contracts.

For example, state rules and labor agreements say that employees must stay in “commercial lodging establishments” for the state to pick up the tab.

The measure written by Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang, R-Diamond Bar, says departments couldn’t refuse reimbursement for short-term room rentals or rides on services including Lyft and Uber. (Currently, the state doesn’t require receipts for rides that cost less than $10.)

The Internet Association, whose members include ride-sharing, web retailers and search engine mammoth Google, “recognizes the value of the emerging sharing economy and how it could be used to reduce state costs relating to travel.”

The Senate Governmental Organization Committee approved the measure earlier this month, 11-1 with one member not voting. The lone dissent: Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, whose family owns a taxi company.

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