Uber legislation has one more step before governor’s desk

The S.C. House passed a bill Wednesday afternoon to regulate Uber, bringing the ride-sharing service a step closer to statewide compliance.

If the bill is passed in the Senate, it will go to Gov. Nikki Haley, where it could be signed into law.

Haley has expressed support for Uber in the past, The Associated Press reported.

“I’m really thrilled about it,” Rep. Bill Sandifer, R-Oconee, said Wednesday. He sponsored the House bill and is chair of the Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee. “I think Uber is a company that has great importance in South Carolina and no place more than in Charleston.”

The Senate must pass the bill by the end of day Thursday for it to get to Haley. The regulation of transportation network companies like Uber was one issue during this week’s special legislative session. Lawmakers also worked on issues like the state budget.

“I expect this bill to be before the governor ... in the next few days,” said Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Charleston, chair of the Senate’s Transportation Committee. “This has been a long process.”

Grooms said he’s pleased Uber will get to remain in the state.

“What Uber brings to the table is something unique,” Grooms said.

The final bill passed by the House stipulates the amounts of insurance coverage drivers need to have, depending on whether they’re logged onto the app and serving customers. People who use Uber can ask for a ride with the app, and an Uber driver will pick them up.

The legislation also stipulates that drivers get background checks and vehicle inspections. There also will be penalties for drivers who fail to comply with the rules. Uber drivers will be required to follow airport rules when they conflict with state rules while working on airport property.

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If the bill passes, any city regulations for Uber will be unenforceable, including regulations the city of Charleston passed in late April.

The state legislation mandates 1 percent of the cost of each ride go to the cities and counties where it operates. The jurisdiction where a ride begins determines where the money goes.

“The bottom line is that we’re confident a statewide framework for ride-sharing will be voted out of the Senate and on to Governor Haley’s desk,” Kaitlin Durkosh, spokeswoman for Uber, said in an email.

Reach Allison Prang at 937-5705.