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Missouri-wide regulations for Uber, Lyft sent to Gov. Greitens’ desk

Updated at 1:35 p.m. with bill passing — The three-year battle to get a ride-hailing bill to the governor’s desk is finally over.

The Missouri House overwhelmingly passed HB 130 on Thursday by a 144-7 vote, which would craft statewide regulations for Uber, Lyft and other app-based companies to operate anywhere in the state.

The rules would require each company to pay a $5,000 licensing fee and set up separate contracts with airports. Individual drivers would have to have liability insurance and submit to background checks, but wouldn’t be required to obtain a chauffeur’s license.

“They are independent contractors, which means they are now business owners,” bill sponsor Republican Rep. Kirk Mathews of Pacific said. “They get to say when they want to work and when they don’t want to work.”

Ride-hailing companies currently operate in four cities in Missouri: St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, and Columbia. Uber has had a long-running legal battle with the St. Louis Taxicab commission over its efforts to operate there.

Democratic Rep. Bruce Franks of St. Louis voted for the bill, but expressed concern about a rule that bars someone for five years from becoming a driver if they’ve been charged with resisting arrest.

“All too often, we know that resisting arrest and certain charges like that look different depending on what you look like and where you’re (from),” he said. “It’s very important to look deep inside of these bills and some of the stuff that we’re putting on there that could potentially hurt a particular community … Uber driving might be that profession that they need to get them over that hump.”

Mathews said Greitens is expected to sign the bill, although there’s been no official response yet from the governor’s office.

Original post from April 12

A bill to establish statewide regulations for Uber, Lyft and other app-based ride-hailing companies appears to be headed for final passage.

Only one senator, a Democrat from St. Louis County, voted against House Bill 130 on Tuesday. It now returns to the House because of a few changes, including removing a requirement that drivers obtain a chauffeur’s license and that ride-hailing companies get separate contracts with airports.

The bill’s main provisions include a $5,000 licensing fee be paid by the company and that drivers have liability insurance and submit to background checks.

iPhone displaying UberX partner app.
Credit File photo | Joseph Leahy | St. Louis Public Radio / Uber, MTC
iPhone displaying UberX partner app.

The sponsor, Republican Rep. Kirk Mathews of Pacific, said he’s fine with the Senate’s changes and that the bill could be sent to Gov. Eric Greitens as early as Thursday.

Recent attempts to adopt statewide regulations for ride-hailing companies have failed in large part to opposition from the St. Louis Metropolitan Taxicab Commission.

The commission has been engaged in a long legal battle with Uber, seeking to ban the service unless the company agrees to the same local regulations as taxi drivers and companies.

Senate Democratic floor leader Gina Walsh of Bellefontaine Neighbors cast the lone “no” vote.

“They are still not held to the same standards as taxicabs in St. Louis,” she said.

But she chose not to block it, saying, “I knew the will of the body was to pass the bill, and voting ‘no’ was the only way to get my point across.”

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter: @MarshallGReport

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