Uber, Kansas Legislature reach compromise

Stephanie Cannon

A bill that would have required the ride-hailing service, Uber, to perform driver background checks passed with a wide bipartisan majority through the Kansas legislature but was vetoed on Monday, April 20 by Kansas governor, Sam Brownback.

The bill also would have fixed an insurance coverage gap that leaves drivers vulnerable in the time between when the drivers check in to the Uber mobile app but before they pick up their client.

In a statement, Brownback decreed the bill as anti-free market and stated that Kansas should be known as a state that embraces economic growth and innovation.

Bipartisan supporters of the bill from the Kansas legislature spoke to the benefits for riders and drivers alike, as the bill would have promoted a safer ride for both. With background checks, drivers that fail would not have been able to connect with Uber’s service and if the insurance gap were covered then drivers would be less susceptible to accidental loss.

When asked about their opinion on the issue, the Washburn students who were familiar with the ride-hailing service expressed their concern.

“I think its cool that it’s coming to Topeka but I’ve heard some bad things that have happened to women when they’ve used it so I don’t particularly know if I would particularly use the service,” said Megan Smith, a member of the Washburn organization STAND.

Smith stated that she believed that the way the law stands she currently would not use Uber’s services.

“There should definitely be background checks on the drivers,” Smith said.

Vanessa Nuñez, senior mass media major, shared Smith’s sentiment.

“I’ve never used the service. I don’t think we have a big enough town to really need it. I mean, I have heard things about a few issues, I guess regarding sexual assault and rape towards women through the Uber service. So, I guess I’d say not a lot of positive towards Uber. That would be my feelings towards it.”

Nuñez also wasn’t pleased to hear about Brownback vetoing the bill that would have required Uber drivers to pass background checks.

“I think that definitely maybe amps up that fear because you don’t know who’s possibly giving you a taxi ride,” Nuñez said. “You don’t know if you’ll really end up at your destination or somewhere completely different, so I think that’s a little scary. Especially when you consider there have been reports of rape and sexual assault.” 

Overall, Nuñez remained uncertain about Uber’s services.

“I would definitely say maybe I wouldn’t use the service,” Nuñez said.