The Kansas law requires transportation network companies, which is the legislature's term for ridesharing, to adhere to certain rules including criminal background checks for drivers and carrying $1 million in insurance when a fare is in a vehicle. The state's governor, Sam Brownback, actually vetoed the bill, but both the Senate and House there overrode his decision.
Uber issued a lengthy statement on its blog asserting that the legislation harmed citizen's safety because people won't be able to hail rides when drunk. The law also created "unbalanced, backward regulations" and was putting drivers out of work, according to Uber. Kansas is the only state so far to force the app out, and according to CNN Money, the insurance requirement is the sticking point between the company and the government.
In speaking with Autoblog, company spokesperson Jennifer Mullin clarified that Uber already insures rides for $1 million in commercial coverage, but Kansas adds a requirement for comprehensive and collision insurance for drivers with the lien on their vehicle. The company believes this singles out ridesharing services because it's not necessary for other professions that transport things. Also, the state law's addition of fingerprint background checks is "not as thorough as our background check," in her view.
While Uber is gone in Kansas, other legislative fights are brewing nationwide that could potentially affect service. For instance, lobbyists are duking it out in Texas over how ridesharing should be regulated. On a more local level, the ridesharing apps have faced challenges in cities like Portland, OR, and Seattle, WA.
MAY 5, 2015
Uber first launched in Kansas - a state traditionally known for its support of free market ideals and innovation - nearly a year ago to the excitement of riders and drivers. Since then, the Uber platform has facilitated tens of thousands of rides for residents and visitors who need them, and given hundreds of Kansas residents the opportunity to earn an income.
Over the past several weeks, more than 6,600 Uber Kansas supporters urged their state legislators and Governor Brownback to support ridesharing services, like uberX.
Unfortunately, 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.
Immediately after that vote, at approximately 2:45 PM, Uber ceased operations throughout Kansas. Drivers who opened the app to make a living, and riders who opened it to get a ride, were both denied the freedom to do so.
By overriding Governor Brownback's veto of SB 117, Kansas legislators:
Eliminated the availability of on-demand safe rides, a transportation option that Kansans were using heavily during times of day when drunk driving accidents occur most.
Destroyed hundreds of Kansas jobs and thousands of new earning opportunities in the coming years.
Singled out Kansas as the first and only state in the nation that forced Uber out with unbalanced, backward regulations.
In keeping up the motto of this great state, "Ad Astra Per Aspera," we will aim to reach our goal of a permanent home for Uber in Kansas even after this challenge.
We extend our gratitude to the thousands of supporters, partners and champions who have spread the Uber love far and wide.
Farewell Kansas - until we meet again.