Gov. Nikki Haley and state Rep. Leon Stavrinakis came to Uber’s defense Friday after the state Public Service Commission ordered the ride service to cease and desist all of its operations in South Carolina.
The governor, who has made job growth and industry recruitment a top priority while in office, sent a letter to the commission emphasizing her “intense disappointment in the actions of the PSC.”
She suggested the commission members and state legislators “resolve this issue before we send a message to the nation and the world that South Carolina is not the kind of place they want to do business.”
She called on the Legislature to develop rules that would accommodate the ride service, which uses a GPS-enabled app to dispatch freelance drivers in their personal vehicles.
“There should be no disruption to our residents’ jobs and no roadblocks to stand in the way of their access to safe methods of transportation,” she wrote.
“I look to the State Legislature to take up ridesharing this year, and to put forth a framework that finds a permanent home for this option throughout to the state.”
Stavrinakis issued a statement shortly after Haley to support Uber. He said he is “working with a bipartisan coalition to draft legislation to allow Uber to operate legally in the state,” adding that a bill could be filed as soon as next week.
“I was deeply disappointed in yesterday’s decision by the government to effectively shut down Uber in South Carolina. Uber has become the most popular ridesharing option in the industry,” he wrote. “In addition to creating jobs for the people of Charleston, Uber has provided a safer way to travel in our city and state.”
Raiser, the Uber subsidiary that runs the app, applied for a license to operate in South Carolina in September — a few months after Uber started offering its service in Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Columbia and Greenville.
The commission had scheduled a public hearing on Jan. 26 to determine whether or how to regulate the service, but it was canceled Tuesday due to a conflict about documents Raiser was required to provide to Checker Yellow Cab Co., a party in the case.
The Committee held a special meeting Thursday, which was scheduled Wednesday afternoon to “take action” on the Office of Regulatory Staff’s request to keep the Jan. 26 hearing date.
Then, the Commission unexpectedly ordered Uber to stop operating in South Carolina altogether until the discovery issues could be resolved and a public hearing could be rescheduled.
Dukes Scott, executive director of the ORS, said “there was no indication on that agenda that a cease and desist order was coming.”
He added that the ORS still expects a public hearing to be held as soon as possible.
“Uber has been cooperative with us, and we believe they’ve given us all the information necessary,” he said.
Raiser has since filed a petition for reconsideration.
Uber notified local customers of the cease and desist order in an email Friday afternoon.
“While we think the PSC believes in consumers having safe and affordable choices, we are concerned that the PSC is unaware of the substantial progress Uber has made over the last few months working closely with state regulators to find a permanent solution for ridesharing in the state,” the company wrote.
Reach Abigail Darlington at 937-5906 and follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail