(Photo Illustration by Margaret Kispert)
(Photo Illustration by Margaret Kispert)

Ride-share bill dies in Legislature

(Photo Illustration by Margaret Kispert)

(Photo Illustration by Margaret Kispert)

Being able to hail an Uber outside of Iowa’s two largest communities in which they operate now is dead for at least another year, despite bipartisan support for legislation calling for the establishment of a statewide regulatory network for ride-share upstarts gained momentum at the Statehouse earlier this month.

House File 394 was on the list of bills that recently met the legislative chopping block, along with proposals to boost the minimum wage to $8.75 an hour and requiring women to have an ultrasound exam before having an abortion.

Des Moines and Cedar Rapids remain the only cities in Iowa in which the nation’s largest and most recognizable ride-share service, Uber, operates.

Brian Best, the vice chairman of the House Transportation Committee, needing a quick ride to Kansas City’s Sprint Center to watch the 2015 Big 12 men’s basketball tournament, ordered an Uber for the first time after being ensured by friends that it was a safe-alternative to a traditional taxi.

“[Company drivers] can’t just go out there and have fun and do it,” said Best, R-Glidden. You have to have background checks and insurance to prove that you are an outstanding person.”

Cities with current local regulations for the companies would have been forced to throw out their local restrictions under the legislation.

The aim of the bill — which in many ways mirrors Des Moines’s regulations — was to allow companies and the consumers to have the same ride-share experience from city to city.

Rep. Dave Jacoby, D-Coralville, said from a local perspective, Gov. Terry Branstad’s signing of the bill would have allowed a person to snag an Uber from Coralville to downtown Iowa City, Jacoby said.

While Branstad and aides have reviewed ride-share ordinances at the local level, the governor had not met with Uber or Lyft officials and had not taken a stance on the concept as of late last week, a Branstad aide told The Daily Iowan.

Uber executives have made trips to the State Capitol in recent months to whip up support for the bill, according to a source with knowledge of the planning.

California has been on a leading front of states that have stiffened regulations on ride-share providers, following Uber-related collisions.

Celebrities, including Iowa native Ashton Kutcher, have since taken to social media to jump-start ride-share popularity in the state with #CAlovesUber.

Had the legislation stayed alive, Statehouse leadership, including members of the House and the Senate, as well as Branstad, would have had until May 1 to pass the measure into law.