House Dem seeks hearing on sharing economy

House Dem seeks hearing on sharing economy
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A House Democrat on Thursday called for the chamber’s Judiciary Committee to hold a hearing about the on-demand economy, which includes companies like Uber and Airbnb.

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) called for the full committee’s Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law, where he is ranking member, to hold a hearing on the sector’s effect on the market and regulations.

“Without question, the sharing economy presents multiple novel and complex policy questions involving consumer safety, regulation, and competition policy,” he said in a letter to committee chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteGOP chairman threatens subpoena for FBI records on Clinton probe Dem leaders pull back from hard-line immigration demand Goodlatte's immigration reform bill has room for compromise MORE (R-Va.) and Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.), who chairs the subcommittee.

“The Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust, which directly exercises jurisdiction over these matters, should convene a hearing to thoughtfully examine these questions.”

Johnson cited what he said were the advantages of the on-demand economy, including increased opportunities for traditionally underserved communities. But he said there “there has also been a substantial public discussion on whether this new model is entirely in the public interest.”

Washington is closely watching the rise of on-demand companies. The Federal Trade Commission is expected to come out with guidelines as soon as this year that will weigh in on the consumer protection and competition implications of the industry.

A subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce held a hearing about the on-demand economy last year.

The growth of such companies has sparked a wide-ranging debate about the future of the workforce.

Many companies, including Uber, classify their front-line workers, like drivers, as independent contractors — meaning they do not get the benefits and protections afforded to employees.

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerOvernight Tech: Facebook faces crisis over Cambridge Analytica data | Lawmakers demand answers | What to watch for next | Day one of AT&T's merger trial | Self-driving Uber car kills pedestrian Overnight Cybersecurity: Trump-linked data firm Cambridge Analytica attracts scrutiny | House passes cyber response team bill | What to know about Russian cyberattacks on energy grid Cambridge Analytica: Five things to watch MORE (D-Va.) had floated the idea of legislation to create new safety net functions for workers in the on-demand economy. He has also suggested giving the companies some sort of regulatory pause so they can develop their own solution to the benefits issue.