- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 11, 2017

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Senators passed a bill Tuesday that would expand regulations for transportation companies such as Uber and Lyft - a measure that legislative leadership and Gov. Eric Greitens have called a job creator and an economic development tool for the state.

In a 31-1 vote, Senators approved a bill that outlines regulations for app-based services. The proposal would require the companies to pay a $5,000 licensing fee, conduct driver background checks and vehicle inspections, and lays out restrictions for who can drive based on driving records. It also exempts such companies from paying local or municipal taxes.

The bill now goes back to the House. If it wins approval, it will move to the governor’s desk.

Uber and Lyft say the legislation could allow them to expand statewide, but the proposal stalled weeks ago after some senators voiced concerns about passenger safety.

Sen. Paul Wieland said he worried that drivers wouldn’t be held accountable for keeping required individual vehicle liability insurance.

The compromise that passed Tuesday states that companies could require drivers to add a provision to their policy that would notify the company if the insurance were to lapse. It also sets out more specific regulations on which people are qualified to drive based on their driver’s records.

“I think we’ve got a much better product now,” Wieland said. “It helps increase public safety.”

In previous years, the bill has stalled over concerns about conflicts with existing local laws and taxi companies. The current version of the proposal allows Kansas City and St. Louis to audit drivers and allows airports to charge equal fees to ride-hail service drivers and taxis.

Uber currently operates in St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbia and Springfield. Springfield was the first city in Missouri to welcome Lyft after a 2014 lawsuit by the St. Louis Taxi Commission pushed it out of the city.


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