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Uber Halts Operation In Kansas, Citing Newly-Passed “Unbalanced, Backward Regulations”

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Annabelle Bamforth
New Hampshire-based writer Annabelle Bamforth is TruthInMedia.com's editor-in-chief, focused on breaking the left/right paradigm through new media and local politics. To share a news tip, contact annabelle@truthinmedia.com.

Uber operations were quickly ceased in Kansas on Tuesday following the passage of legislation that placed new regulations on the company as well as other ride-sharing services in the state.

SB 117 contains several new rules that must be followed by ride-sharing services, including requirements for disclosure of fare calculations and fare estimates, and the disclosure of license plate numbers and photos of drivers.

The bill also mandates an increased level of car insurance maintained by drivers. While a driver is “on the clock” but not providing a ride, SB 117 requires “Primary automobile insurance of at least $50,000 for death and bodily injury per person and $100,000 per incident, and $25,000 for property damage; and Primary automobile liability insurance that meets the minimum coverage requirements where required by statutes relating to uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage and motor vehicle liability insurance coverage.”

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While a driver is “engaged in a prearranged ride,” SB 117 requires “Primary automobile insurance that provides at least $1,000,000 for death, bodily injury, and property damage; and Primary automobile liability insurance that meets the minimum coverage requirements where required by statutes relating to uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage and motor vehicle liability insurance coverage.”

The bill also requires drivers to submit to background checks from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.

According to the Kansas City Star, Uber claims that it performs its own background checks on its drivers and that the insurance requirements are “unnecessary.”

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback vetoed the bill, describing the legislation as “premature.”

“To overregulate or improperly regulate an emerging industry before the marketplace actors make proper arrangements is to invite more problems, not less,” Brownback wrote in his veto.

The Kansas Senate voted 34-5 to override the veto, followed by a 96-25 vote from the House to override the veto.

In a blog post, Uber condemned the passage of the bill, claiming that “Kansas lawmakers chose not to listen to their constituents, and special interests succeeded in securing an override of the Governor’s veto of SB 117 – a bill that makes it impossible for Uber to operate in the state.”

The post accused Kansas legislators of singling out Kansas “as the first and only state in the nation that forced Uber out with unbalanced, backward regulations.”

Republican Senate President Susan Wagle, who called Uber’s reaction “pure political theater,” told the Kansas City Star in an email that “The Legislature has not taken any action preventing them from operating.”

“They have a consistent pattern of irrational behavior, and this is just the latest example,” Wagle said.

According to Wichita news station KAKE, law enforcement agencies worry that drunk driving in Kansas may increase due to Uber’s absence. “Any service that is assisting getting people that have maybe have had too much to drink home is a good thing, and the loss of that may at some point increase that type of DUI, or DUI-related crashes,” said Lt. David Hundley of the Kansas Highway Patrol.

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