Uber: ‘We’re not in Kansas anymore’ – app withdraws from state

6 May 2015

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Uber has withdrawn from Kansas following lawmakers’ decision to override the state governor’s veto of a bill that the company says makes it impossible for it to operate in the state.

The often-controversial ride-sharing app revealed the news in a strongly-worded blog post that accused members of the Kansas House and Senate of choosing “not to listen to their constituents” and “destroying hundreds of Kansas jobs and thousands of new earning opportunities in the coming years”.

The SB 117 Bill imposes certain insurance requirements on drivers and makes it mandatory for them to undergo a Kansas Bureau of Investigation background check. As reported by The Kansas City Star, Governor Sam Brownback last month vetoed the bill because of concerns about over-regulating an emerging industry. However, the House and Senate has now chosen to override Brownback’s veto.

Uber contends that the insurance is unnecessary and that it already does its own background checks on drivers. “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,” wrote Susannah Brokl, the firm’s marketing manager.

“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.”

Kansas is not the first state to make things hard for Uber. Los Angeles and San Francisco (the app’s hometown) filed lawsuits last December accusing it of “making false or misleading statements to consumers and for engaging in a variety of business practices that violate California law”.

“Uber has refused to comply with straightforward California laws that protect consumers from fraud and harm,” Gascon and Los Angeles County district attorney Jackie Lacey said in a statement. “These companies can be innovative in the way they deliver services without ignoring the laws that protect the public.”

Still, Uber remains a popular choice for many people, and has exerted such a grip on New York that the number of its cars on the road now outnumbers the city’s iconic yellow cabs.

 

Dean is a freelance journalist and editor covering media.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com