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Lawmakers debate letting island set its own Uber, Lyft rules

Taxis await ferry passengers arriving in New Shoreham, R.I. on Block Island. Two taxis operate on the island all year, but more than 30 are licensed to operate during the summer tourist season. Matt O'Brien / AP

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island lawmakers are considering a bill that would let a picturesque summer resort island set its own rules for regulating ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft.

The state Senate is scheduled to vote on the legislation Tuesday.

Taxi proprietors who live on Block Island support the proposal. It would allow the town of New Shoreham, which encompasses the island, to be exempt from new statewide rules affecting ride-hailing apps.

The taxi drivers say they’d be harmed if Uber and Lyft don’t have to follow the island’s long-standing taxi code.

Uber and Lyft have objected to the proposed exemption.

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The bill was introduced by Sen. Susan Sosnowski, a South Kingstown Democrat whose district includes Block Island. Block Island Republican Rep. Blake Filippi has introduced companion legislation in the House.