ST. LOUIS – If major state legislators have their way, Missouri will become the 36th state to have a regulatory framework for businesses like Uber and Lyft by the end of the 2017 legislative session.
House Speaker Todd Richardson and Sen. Bob Onder spoke to reporters Monday via teleconference about their plans to push legislation to regulate transportation network companies (TNCs), also known as ridesharing companies. Richardson said that not only would it support Missourians looking for a service they desire, but it could also provide an economic benefit for drivers to help ail income inequality across the state.
“We think it’s important to establish this framework so these kinds of opportunities are available here in Missouri,” Richardson said.
Both Onder and Richardson said that they would focus on passing the legislation early this session, though Richardson said that leadership still had to decide where to fit it in amongst other priorities like labor reform and tort reform. The speaker added that all of the priorities of the House would ”center on creating an economic environment here in Missouri that allows everyone the opportunity to create a good life for themselves.”
Onder said the bill could create 10,000 new jobs for Missourians.
“TNC companies really provide a service that people want that gives them great convenience at a low cost,” he said. “Some cities in Missouri, especially Springfield, have already taken action to provide a reg framework similar to what is in our bill.
However, they will still need to convince a few legislators that an Uber bill will do just that while still providing safe rides to the state’s citizens. Similar measures stalled in the Senate last year after being introduced midway through the 2016 session, and one of the primary reasons was because some legislators wanted to include FBI fingerprint background checks among the regulations. In most cases across the nation, Uber and Lyft have refused that rule. Richardson argued that Uber helped decrease DUI rates (a claim that the jury is still out on), and Onder cited St. Louis Cheif of Police Sam Dotson, who said that Uber’s own background checks were “thorough and responsible.”
He said Uber and Lyft have terrific safety records.
Rep. Kirk Mathews, R-Pacific, has pre-filed legislation (HB 130) similar to what he filed last year on the matter, and Onder said he would also be filing legislation this week.