The Buzz

Missouri Senate leader endorses local control for Uber, Lyft

The Uber app displays cars available to make a pickup.
The Uber app displays cars available to make a pickup. AP

The success Kansas City officials had working out an agreement with the vehicle-for-hire company Uber last week is resonating in the Missouri Capitol.

Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, a St. Charles Republican, pointed to Kansas City Monday and said he’d prefer to leave decisions concerning these companies in local hands instead of passing a statewide standard.

“You’ve got a lot of people in these communities that want those ride-sharing programs,” Dempsey said, “and I don’t think it’s our job as state legislators to solve every problem at the local level.”

Days before the agreement between Kansas City and Uber was announced, the Missouri House gave initial approval to statewide standards vehicle-for-hire companies that would essentially void local ordinances that have been passed in cities like Kansas City and Columbia.

The benefit of allowing for local regulations, Dempsey said, would be that if down the road a statewide standard is deemed necessary, those local ordinances could provide a successful template from which lawmakers could work from.

“My preference,” he said, “is to see what those ride sharing companies work out with the communities they wish to serve.”

Several versions of the vehicle-for-hire legislation are still circulating, but none has managed to clear either the Missouri House or Senate with less than three weeks to go before the legislature adjourns for the year.

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