Senator says Uber driving illegally in MI

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — A state senator says the app-based ride service Uber is “operating illegally” in Michigan because it doesn’t carry the right insurance for a transportation company.

“They’ve been sent a letter by the state telling them to stop all operations,” Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, said.

Regardless, Uber drivers continue to pick up those requesting rides.

Jones has introduced a bill into the state legislature — Senate Bill 0184 — that would require Uber drivers to carry the same insurance taxi drivers do and pushes for background checks on drivers.

>>Online: Read SB 0184

“I don’ think these are unreasonable,” Jones said. “It’s not going to harm Uber. They are going to continue to be in business. They’re going to make a lot of money in this state.”

Uber says it already does background checks and provides plenty of insurance for drivers.

“Drivers who use the Uber app must pass local, state and federal background checks and are covered by a $1 million insurance policy. Applying an antiquated regulatory framework to this new industry is a backward-looking approach and will stifle innovation and economic growth in Michigan,” Uber said in a statement to 24 Hour News 8.

“I had them in my office the other day and I said, ‘Do you have the same Michigan insurance that we have right now?’ And no, they don’t,” Jones said.

>>Inside Uber rolls into town; cab drivers not happy

Uber argues it isn’t a transportation company but rather a technology company and therefore should not face the same regulations.

“Uber is not a limousine company, let alone a transportation company, and so these bills reflect a misunderstanding of our business model. Uber is a technology company that created an app that connects riders and drivers,” an Uber statement to 24 Hour News 8 read in part.

“We’re not trying to regulate an app, we’re trying to regulate the drivers to make sure they’re safe, to make sure their passengers are safe,” Jones rebutted.

Jones said he is urging Uber to talk with him about what they don’t like about the bills so they can work together and come up with something both parties consider fair.

“What I’m trying to do basically is save Uber. If they would just carry the same insurance to protect the passengers that other taxies and limousines have to carry, that would bring them in compliance there,” Jones said.

Jones said he doesn’t think trying to regulate Uber in Michigan would result in the company driving away from the state.

“They are making way too much money,” he said. “They don’t want to leave the state but they want to be stubborn about coming into compliance. What I’m trying to do is save Uber.”

Jones said the bills should be into committee as early as next week.

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