Legislation legalizing ridesharing services in the Show-Me State now sits on Gov. Eric Greitens’ desk, after the Missouri House passed statewide rules for transportation network companies by a 144-7 vote last week. The state Senate had already cleared the measure by a vote of 31-1 a few days earlier.
As the Associated Press described the bill:
The legislation would require that companies pay a licensing fee and adhere to a nondiscrimination policy. It would exempt them from local and municipal taxes and require drivers to submit to background checks and purchase vehicle liability insurance.
Missouri cities, like many others around the country, initially were cool to ridesharing, throwing up regulatory impediments to halt the services’ spread. By the time R Street issued its second Ridescore report in December 2015, there were only 15 states that did not either have or were considering statewide legislation, typically focused on mandatory insurance, taxes and background checks. Today, there’s only a handful of states that have not yet passed statewide rules.
In the first Ridescore report in November 2014, Kansas City earned a D- for overall friendliness to for-hire transportation services and an F for its treatment of TNCs. Those grades improved slightly to a C and a D, respectively, in the second report, though both remained several grades lower than the average and median scores in the 50-city study.
Enacting a statewide law has been a priority for House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, and other Missouri lawmakers focused on job creation. Uber has projected an additional 10,000 jobs for the state through expansion of its ridesharing app service. Floor remarks by legislators from Springfield—where both Uber and Lyft now operate—indicated more people have been able to get downtown since that city moved to allow ridesharing services in the capital.
The compromise that attracted enough support for the large vote in both houses specifies that Uber, Lyft and other ridesharing services must pay city taxes and be liable for pickup fees at the airports. They do not have to pay meter inspection or other license fees, and they are permitted to charge higher prices for busier times because of rush hour or bad weather, when demand escalates. These increased charges must be accepted by the customer using the application, of course. Moreover, both Kansas City and St Louis won the right to audit the newly authorized services up to twice a year, to alleviate concerns regarding public safety and chiseling on fees.
State lawmakers have a lot on their plates, since Congress appears unlikely to solve more than a few of the 21st century adjustments required to maintain a reasonable level of civilization. It is encouraging that citizen participation in popular disruptive services has produced an environment where many more people on both sides of the transaction can participate with the government’s blessing and oversight.
Image by Nagel Photography