- Associated Press - Thursday, February 11, 2016

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The Jackson City Council has passed an ordinance aimed at regulating transportation-network companies like Uber.

The Clarion-Ledger reports (http://on.thec-l.com/1PENWvf) after months of discussion, Tuesday’s vote was 3-1.

“We’ve taken them out of a grey area and given them a specific lane,” Councilman Melvin Priester Jr. said.

The ordinance requires companies pay a $5,000 registration fee and a $500 annual fee as they apply to the city for a license. Jackson would also require the licensed companies to perform background checks on their drivers and the city would audit their records.

The new rule does not require drivers be drug tested or fingerprinted as a previous version of the ordinance did. Those requirements were the biggest things that “drove a wedge between the city and Uber,” Priester said.

Priester said other cities across the country do not impose drug testing on similar drivers.

“The lack of drug testing is uniform. That is something I wasn’t aware of when I initially proposed this ordinance,” Priester said.

Priester said there are safety options available through Uber that taxi cabs do not have. When a rider requests an Uber, they are able to see the name and a photo of the driver, the car they will be riding in and the license plate.

The fact that users can pick drivers off the app if they’re unsuitable for the job represents a “responsiveness that doesn’t exist with traditional taxis,” Priester said.

Priester said he believes the current ordinance balances the safety of Jacksonians without “chas(ing) Uber out of town.”

An Uber spokesperson said it’s likely the company will be able to operate under the guidelines set forth in the most recent ordinance.

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Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, http://www.clarionledger.com

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