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Uber Leaves Kansas After Background Check Bill Clears

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The message “KANSAS JUST SHUT DOWN UBER” popped up on the Uber app Tuesday

With the spate of incidences involving Uber drivers being accused and convicted of various and sundry crimes up to and including rape and assault, it only stands to reason that states in which the company operates would seek to require background checks for drivers.

Of course, we are talking about American politics and American politicians, so it’s not quite that easy. This is why Kansas Governor Sam Brownback vetoed a bill that would require drivers to undergo state background checks and carry comprehensive and collision insurance—both good things to some extent!—claiming that the bill would somehow spurn Uber’s business.

In response, Kansas’ Republican-controlled Senate overrode Brownback’s veto with a 34-5 vote, and the House returned a similarly overwhelming 96-25 vote. In turn, Uber responded in a manner not terribly dissimilar from that of a petulant child by taking its ball and going home.

“Uber has ceased operations throughout the state,” said Uber spokeswoman Lauren Altmin in a statement. “We’re saddened by the loss of hundreds of jobs, safe rides and transportation choice for consumers in Kansas.”

Uber maintains that, despite the rash of crimes alleged to have been committed by its drivers, it performs its own background checks on drivers.

“I think the governor’s veto was about Uber. For us it’s not,” said Representative Scott Schwab of Olathe. “For us it’s the next player that comes in to do transportation and doesn’t do a background check and then all of a sudden we’ve got a couple of 21-year-old girls that were hoping to get a safe ride home and that just went missing.

“There (are) no protections. And we’re not asking for much. I mean, in Colorado next to us they go through their bureau of investigation, and Uber didn’t leave there.”

Senate President Susan Wagle of Wichita called Uber’s announcement “pure political theater.”

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