Bill would require state background check for Uber drivers

Legislation introduced in the state House on Wednesday would require all drivers for Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing programs to pass a state background check.

House Bill 224, sponsored by Rep. Alan Powell, R-Hartwell, would also require taxi drivers to submit to the same records check. Limousine drivers already are required to pass the check and get a special driver’s license endorsement from the Department of Driver Services.

Powell, the chairman of the House Public Safety Committee, also proposes deregulating the taxi industry — to a point. In Atlanta, for example, taxi drivers must buy one of a limited number of medallions to operate in the city. The price of those medallions fluctuate with the market and can be worth thousands of dollars.

HB 224 would grandfather in Atlanta’s medallion system but bar any other city or county from creating a similar system.

The bill is the culmination of months of work by a legislative study committee that spent the fall exploring how or whether to regulate the popular new ride-sharing services. Powell said he sought to balance the ability of startups such as Uber to modernize the market while ensuring passenger safety.

Legislation introduced Tuesday would require Uber and Lyft to maintain at least $1 million insurance policies for drivers when a passenger is in the car.

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