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Uber, Lyft drivers could become ineligible for workers comp in Alaska

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Alaska is considering a pair of bills that would exempt ride-sharing services such as Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. from providing workers compensation coverage to drivers in their networks.

Alaska H.B. 120 is set to be considered today by the state House of Representatives Labor and Commerce committee, according to the Alaska State Legislature website. A sister bill, S.B. 58, also has been submitted to the Alaska Senate.

The proposed legislation would add people who use their vehicles to provide “transportation network company services” to a list of other professions that are not covered under Alaska's workers comp law, according to bills posted to the legislature's website. Similar exclusions apply to jobs such as part-time babysitters, commercial fishermen and professional hockey players who are covered under their team's health insurance plan.

The bill notes that a person is considered to be performing transportation network company services when they accept a request for transportation “through the transportation network company's digital network or software application,” and that the exclusion “continues while the person transports the passenger in the person's vehicle, and ends when the passenger exits the person's vehicle.”

Two lawsuits in U.S. District Court in San Francisco seek to classify Uber and Lyft drivers as employees, rather than independent contractors. The lawsuits, if successful, could require the ride-sharing companies to provide workers comp to drivers if they are deemed to be employed by such services.

Uber and Lyft have said they provide liability insurance coverage to drivers, and a majority of states have passed or considered legislation that would regulate how much liability coverage is required for ride-sharing drivers.