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Uber bill breaks through General Assembly, headed to governor’s desk

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – After years of effort by members of the Legislature, the Uber bill has found its way to the governor’s desk.

The House passed Rep. Kirk Mathews’ HB 130, a bill that creates a statewide regulatory framework for transportation networking companies, by a massive 144-7 margin Thursday afternoon.

For a bill that saw contention at every turn for the last two years from city officials in Kansas City, the St. Louis Metropolitan Taxicab Commission, cab companies, and legislators concerned it did not do enough to address public safety concerns, Mathews called that margin “very gratifying.”

Mostly, he was enthused by the doors this legislation would open for Missouri.

“There is enormous demand for these services in our state,” he said, emphasizing “the economic driver that this [bill] can be for our state, not just in the way there will be thousands of new small businesses, but keeping Missouri competitive for high-tech businesses.”

This year, the bill moved quickly through the House, before hitting a roadblock in the Senate when Sen. Paul Wieland raised concerns regarding insurance provisions in the bill. Senate handler Sen. Bob Onder worked with Wieland on a substitute to address those concerns and passed the bill out of the chamber Tuesday 30-1.

Speaker Todd Richardson credited Onder and Mathews, as well as previous bill handler Rep. Jay Barnes and Speaker Pro Tem Elijah Haahr, who worked heavily on the bill last year.

Even Rep. Gina Mitten, one of the handful of representatives who voted against the Uber bill in its first trip through the house, voted for the bill Thursday, even though she acknowledged it was not a perfect bill.

“Not every one of my concerns was met on the substitute, but I have constituents that are Uber drivers,” she said. “It’s as good of a compromise we’re going to get and I was happy to support it.”

Transportation network companies also expressed their approval, including Lyft, which stopped all operation in the state in 2015.

“Lyft is incredibly excited by the passage of this bill, which will allow us to expand operations in Missouri and bring increased economic opportunities and transportation options to those around the state,” Lyft spokesperson Scott Coriell said in a statement. “We are currently working on expansion plans, pending signage of the bill, and hope to announce those soon.”

Gov. Eric Greitens is expected to sign the legislation, possibly as early as next week.