Can I Catch a Ride?: Regulating Uber and Lyft in Michigan

Issues and Ideas Forum


Ridesharing is a new service made popular by companies like Lyft and Uber. It relies on smartphones to connect those who need a ride to drivers willing to provide one — a riff on the traditional taxi system. Ridesharing has allowed thousands of Michiganders earn extra income as drivers and save money and time as riders. It currently operates in a legal gray area, because ridesharing drivers are not cabbies or chauffeurs. 

The Michigan Legislature is debating how to regulate ridesharing. The State House has passed a package of bills which would establish fair regulations statewide giving people the freedom to ride and the freedom to drive. But the Senate has introduced bills which highly regulates drivers, requiring them to go through numerous hoops and pay high fees in order to work. And cities across Michigan would be able to crack down on drivers and put them out of business. 

Learn more about this issue from our panel, which features Uber driver Tim VanDongen, State Senator Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake), and researcher Michael Farren of the Mercatus Center, will look at the benefits of ridesharing and discuss what is happening in the Michigan Legislature.

shirkeyMike Shirkey is a State Senator representing the 16th district in south-central Michigan. He serves as chair of the Senate Health Policy and Michigan Competitiveness committees. Mike is the founder and owner of Orbitform, a leading engineering company, has been married to his wife Sue for 39 years, and has three children and several grandchildren.

farrenMichael Farren is a Research Fellow in the Project for the Study of American Capitalism at the Mercatus Center. His research focuses on the effects of government granted privilege, specializing in labor, economic development, and transportation issues.

vandongenTim VanDongen started driving for Lyft and Uber as a way to make some extra money during the holidays. Soon, it made him enough to leave his job as a restaurant manager and start his own business, Ryde Media, which sets up advertising in ridesharing vehicles.

Lunch is free and is included with reservations.

WHEN: Wednesday, May 4, 2016
11:30 a.m. - Check-in and lunch available
Noon to 1:00 p.m. - Program with Q&A
WHERE: Radisson Hotel Lansing at the Capitol
Michigan II & III
111 N. Grand Avenue
Lansing, MI 48933

Register for this event.

If you have any questions or need more information, please contact Event Manager Kimberley Fischer-Kinne at 989-698-1905 or

Registration deadline is Fri., April 29 at 5 PM.

Please note: We are unable to guarantee lunch for any guest if the registration is received after the deadline.


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