Uber regulations in MO

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COLUMBIA – A statewide regulation bill that supporters say will improve public safety in app-based transportation companies such as Uber and Lyft, is now headed to the Missouri House.

The bill would require drivers to purchase vehicle liability insurance, obey a nondiscrimination policy and pay a licensing fee. It would also require drivers to get background checks, and would exempt companies from local and municipal taxes.

“Public safety is first and foremost, but there is a huge demand for these services,” said Rep. Kirk Mathews, (R) Pacific, who introduced the bill.

The Senate passed the bill after a 31-1 vote on Tuesday.

The legislation will require the Transportation Network Company (TNC) driver to maintain a million dollars worth of liability insurance whenever there is a rider in the car. Drivers must also pay a $5000 license fee to the Department of Revenue.

The bill would allow Uber and Lyft to expand statewide. Mathews said there would be 10,000 new businesses created, because each driver is their own independent contractor

“These services add value to our state in so many ways,” Mathews said.

Uber driver Raena Sword said the company does have nondiscrimination policies, require insurance, and does background checks, but she is unsure of the scope of the check.

She said she was required to get a Transportation Network Operator license, have her car inspected by the city and do a short driving test upon applying for Uber.

“I don’t really have any complaints about how it's run, it's really pretty simple,” Sword said. “And being a millennial, it’s right through the app and on my own terms, which I really like.”

Sword said drivers are not allowed to take riders to and from the airport.

“They’re really particular about that,” she said.

Mathews said Missouri is falling behind as it competes for high technology businesses because app-based transportation isn’t available throughout the entire state.

“There are businesses that are located in our state that bring in customers and colleagues from all over the country that are disappointed or shocked that they cant get a TNC ride from the airport,” Mathews said. “It’s turning our reputation in the country as not being a high tech state.”

As for the competition, the general manager of Rick’s Taxi Service, Tom Palis, said he is definitely on board with the new regulations.

He said, “I see that it’s not necessarily a good thing for the taxi companies, but I see that it’s possibly the wave of the future. All I ask is that we have a level playing field.”

Palis said the city and state should enforce the same regulations they enforce on taxis, on Uber and Lyft as well. If lawmakers don’t want to impose more rules on app-based companies, then they should relax the taxi regulations, he said.

Mathews said he expects the bill to move through the House quickly, and Gov. Eric Grietens has already expressed his support of the bill. If passed, the new regulations will begin on Aug. 28.