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Missouri House Endorses Statewide Regulations for Uber, Lyft

Austin Federa

An effort by Missouri lawmakers to create statewide regulations for ridesharing companies including Uber and Lyft has received initial approval in the House.

The House on Wednesday approved the measure on a voice vote. Opponents from Kansas City and St. Louis say it would remove cities' ability to protect residents.

The measure would require background checks and insurance as well as a local license for the companies to operate. Supporters say it would ensure Uber and Lyft could operate in the state with some regulations.

Democratic Rep. Jon Carpenter of Kansas City says the proposal is an example of big business taking advantage of local government.

The measure would block more restrictive local regulation of the companies.

Fifth Ward Columbia city councilwoman Laura Nauser said that Uber didn’t follow an agreement it made with Columbia to avoid charging fare while the ordinance was under construction.

“After the ordinance was prepared and drafted we learned that [Uber] was charging fares the entire time,” Nauser said. “You expect people to operate and negotiate with you in good faith and when you find out one of the parties have no honored their word, that puts some distrust in my mind.”

Uber recently signed its business license and is currently operating legally in Columbia. Nauser said that although the city and Uber were off to a rocky start she is hoping that Columbia and the company can move forward with a professional relationship.  

“I think [Uber] gives consumers a choice and an option,” Nauser said. “But there is that minimum level of regulation we require that makes sure people have safe rides when they get in a car with an independent contractor that’s hired through Uber.” 

An issue with the potential passing of these regulations is that different transportation and ridesharing services may be compelled to obey varying laws. Local businesses in Columbia are regulated throughout each municipality while other multinational companies such as Uber could follow only statewide regulations. Jason Kollock, the Operations Manager of Columbia’s local transportation service Taxi Terry’s, said that it’s important for the state to pass regulations that help smaller businesses and citizens too.

“I’m okay with it as long as the state is still looking on the customer’s behalf,” Kollock said. “But the state should still want all ridesharing companies to have the same rules the city does.”

While the proposal of the measure has sparked some controversy, Nauser said it is a necessity to instill regulations to ensure the safety and efficiency of transportation for Columbia’s residents. The regulation still needs final approval in the House before moving to the Senate. 

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