Missouri Business Headlines

Missouri House: Thumbs up for Uber

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With smartphone-aided ride hailing, Uber and Lyft created a revolution. Now, Missouri regulations have to play catch-up.

Companies like Uber and Lyft utilize smartphone technology and the freelance economy to compete with traditional taxi services. They allow people to make money by offering rides in their own vehicles. These companies give consumers more choices and price options.

Uber KCHowever, Missouri’s outdated regulations—written for traditional taxi services—have slowed efforts to expand this model throughout the state.

Several lawmakers are proposing bills to create new statutes regulating transportation network companies. The new laws would cover Uber, Lyft and any similar competitors.

On Feb. 8, the Missouri House of Representatives gave first round approval to a bill that would establish the state’s insurance requirements for these companies. House Bill 1563 says that when an Uber driver signs on and becomes available for riders, the insurance liability shifts to Uber. However, when the driver signs off of the Uber network and begins driving their car for personal purposes, their personal insurance kicks in.

“Once you turn your app on, their insurance covers you,” said Rep. Don Gosen, a Republican from Ballwin who sponsored the bill.

During floor discussion on his bill, Rep. Gosen said the bill creates parity with existing insurance regulations on traditional taxi companies.

“The premise of who’s going to be responsible once that person goes to work is the same,” he said.

Later on Feb. 8, a House committee heard testimony a bill to establish a regulatory framework for companies like Uber and Lyft. It would require an annual permit from the Missouri Department of Revenue. It would also require drivers to be at least 19 years old and have good driving records, among other regulations. The bill is House Bill 2330 sponsored by Rep. Kirk Matthews, a Republican from Pacific.

Similar bills are awaiting hearings in the Missouri Senate, including Senate Bill 991 by Sen. Bob Onder, a Republican from Lake Saint Louis, and Senate Bill 947, sponsored by Sen. Mike Parson, a Republican from Bolivar.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry supports the effort to open this industry to new technologies and greater competition.

For more information about transportation issues, contact Brad Green, Missouri Chamber director of legislative and regulatory affairs, at bgreen@mochamber.com or by phone at 573.634.3511.

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