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Despite concerns, Bellone moves ahead with Uber, Lyft

A driver displaying Lyft and Uber stickers on

A driver displaying Lyft and Uber stickers on his front windshield drops off a customer in downtown Los Angeles on Jan. 12, 2016. Credit: AP

Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are set to begin operating legally in Suffolk County on June 29 after County Executive Steve Bellone declined Tuesday to fast-track a bill to block the companies.

“From Huntington to the Hamptons, Suffolk County residents will finally have access to ride-sharing services in just over one week from today,” Bellone said in a statement.

Opponents of the services had asked Bellone to waive rules and allow a vote at Tuesday’s county legislative meeting in Riverhead on a bill by Legis. Leslie Kennedy (R-Nesconset). The bill would “opt-out” the county from ride-sharing services, which are authorized by law to begin statewide June 29.

Kennedy’s concern is that Level 1 sex offenders could drive for the companies seven years after a conviction or the end of a prison sentence under existing state law.

A state bill by Assemb. Joseph Lentol (D-Brooklyn), Assemb. Dean Murray (R-East Patchogue) and Sen. Tom Croci (R-Sayville) would prohibit any registered sex offender from working for a ride-hailing company in New York. The bill passed the Assembly on Tuesday night and now goes to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s desk.

Laura Ahearn, president of Parents for Megan’s Law, said Tuesday night she was still “deeply concerned” that the county hadn’t paused on accepting the ride-sharing service, but said she was assured Bellone would call a special meeting if the state legislation fails.

“There’s no guarantee the state will pass the legislation,” she said. “We have to be proactive.”

Both Uber and Lyft support the pending state legislation.

A separate bill pending before the county Legislature would put a six-month moratorium on ride-sharing services in Suffolk County. That bill won’t be voted on until July 25 at the earliest.

Bill sponsors Legis. Bridget Fleming (D-Noyack) and Legis. William Spencer (D-Centerport) said they want the county to recoup a share of the tax proceeds on rides to help fund mass transit in the county. Under current law, the state keeps all of the 4 percent tax on rides.

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