A bill enacting statewide regulations on vehicle-for-hire companies like Uber and Lyft is on its way to Gov. Eric Greitens.
The Missouri House voted 144-7 to approve the bill Thursday. The Senate passed it earlier in the week, and the governor is expected to sign it.
The bill requires app-based companies wishing to do business in Missouri to pay a $5,000 licensing fee and conduct driver background checks and vehicle inspections. It also lays out who can be a driver, based on their driving record, and exempts the companies from paying local taxes.
Legislative leaders have pushed for statewide regulations on vehicle-for-hire companies for the last two years, saying a patchwork of local ordinances could prevent these companies from expanding throughout the state.
“I believe local control is important,” said state Rep. Kirk Mathews, a St. Louis County Republican who sponsored the bill, “unless local control is used to restrict competition.”
Last year, the bill faced vehement opposition from Kansas City leaders, who argued the city’s much more expansive ordinance was needed to ensure passenger safety. The heart of the disagreement was over whether Uber should be mandated to perform fingerprint-based FBI criminal background checks on all its drivers.
Under a compromise struck this year, Uber and other similar companies will perform their own background checks on drivers, but both Kansas City and St. Louis are allowed to audit those records up to twice a year. The bill also allows airports to charge equal fees to drivers of taxis and for vehicle-for-hire companies.
Uber kicked off its lobbying effort this year by offering free services during inaugural festivities back in January. The company was also among a list of companies and lobbyists who donated to a nonprofit that bankrolled the governor’s inauguration.