DES MOINES, Iowa-- Uber is changing the way people get around town. Instead of calling for a taxi, riders use an app on their cell phone and drivers pick them up in their personal cars.
Cities are coming up with new rules for the new way to ride and now so is the state.
Monday, the Senate Transportation subcommittee met to discuss a bill that cleared the House 95-5. It would require companies like Uber to conduct background checks, safety inspections, and provide liability insurance in the event of an accident. The proposal would include a $50,000 to $100,000 policy for death or serious injury when the driver has the app turned on. It bumps it up to $1 million when the driver is headed to pick up a rider or has a rider in the car.
"There are no gaps in any coverage provided by Uber and this bill - as currently as the amendment that was discussed today- makes that crystal clear," said Uber Iowa General Manager Pooneet Kant.
What happens to the rules passed by the City of Des Moines isn't clear. The city, Uber and representatives from the taxi industry met for six months to come up with an agreement. There is discussion about whether Des Moines would be exempt for the state law.
"Do we need a state policy? I do believe we do," said Sen. Jeff Danielson, (D) Cedar Falls.
"This is a new industry and this entire concept is only a couple years old and so I think it's great that we're diving into the policy making side of it and I really do hope that we end up with a statewide solution," said Kant.
The Senate Transportation Subcommittee still has to hash out a few things before bringing the bill to a full committee or Senate vote. In addition to the local exemption issue with Des Moines, another factor is how Uber would address airport fees when picking up or dropping off passengers.
Committee members expressed other concerns about the app-based program that only takes credit and debit cards.
"I just am concerned that certain individuals may not be able to access this service," said Sen. Herman Quirmbach, (D) Ames.
Uber runs in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids.