by Myron Naneng Sr.
Mr. Governor, I, Myron Naneng Sr., am the Chairman of the Board for the Sea Lion Corporation, representing the people of Hooper Bay, AK, and I would like to discuss HB 132. Before I begin, I would like to give you full disclosure that Sea Lion Corporation owns a subsidiary that is the majority owner of Alaska Yellow Dispatch, LLC.
I believe that HB 132 is hastily put together and will ultimately cost the State to govern the new government regulation issues, it will forever damage the current transportation industry, and it will damage services needed for Alaska Native people via the Medicaid voucher system.
Alaska Yellow Dispatch, LLC processes on average 1,300 per week; these vouchers are used to get people to their medical appointments. The TNC’s (Transportation Network Companies) will decrease the number of cab service available to Alaska Natives, TNC’s will not take the Medicaid vouchers, they do not cater to the disabled, and they only take credit cards. All of these combined services that the taxi cabs offer will decline once the TNC’s are in the market, and we feel that this issue is discriminating against Alaska Natives and the disabled.
You had the support of the Native people during your campaign for the Governorship, but can you honestly say that you are thinking of us if you support this bill? I urge you to keep the Alaskan transportation industry strong and Alaskan, by vetoing this bill.
As a final thought, here are just a handful of additional reasons why you should veto HB 132 because it is bad for the State and municipalities:
1) Revenue: Twenty percent to twenty-five percent of the TNC’s customer fare will go out of State instead of staying within the Alaska economy.
2) Safety: Who would a local municipality call if they were having problems with Uber or Lyft drivers or companies? There is literally not a single person within the State of Alaska to call if there are issues.
3) Safety: The bill includes only minimal background checks for drivers, does not mandate fingerprint checks, there is no requirement that drivers have routine physicals to demonstrate their fitness to transport passengers – which are the gold standard and typical for taxi drivers.
4) Safety: There are no annual requirements to demonstrate the fitness of the vehicle being used to transport passengers (again generally required for taxi cabs). Such local regulations are designed to protect members of the public who enter the vehicles, and are wholly lacking in this bill. A bill that elevates out-of-state corporate profits over the safety of Alaskans is bad for Alaskans.
5) Alaskans with disabilities: Uber and Lyft have both stated they have no plans on having accessible vehicles for the disabled. They have repeatedly been sued for failing to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and provide disabled citizens with service, arguing that they shouldn’t have to comply with the law because they are “technology” companies and not transportation firms. One suit filed in Chicago noted that Uber provided nearly 2 million rides in Chicago in one month alone, but only gave 14 rides to motorized wheelchair users over a four-year period. Do we want this happening to Alaskan residents who have disabilities?
Thank you for listening to me and my concerns for the Alaska Native people in my region. If you have any questions or would like me to discuss any of these items, please call me at 907-751-6803, or email me at [email protected]
Myron Naneng Sr. serves as the Chairman of the Board for the Sea Lion Corporation of Hooper Bay, AK.