SPRINGFIELD - State Senator Karen McConnaughay (R-Aurora) is a big fan of Uber and ride sharing programs, but she's co-sponsoring legislation that will be voted on Wednesday that requires drivers and riders be protected, not just the ride sharing company.
"I'm a huge fan of free markets and of Uber itself," McConnaughay told Illinois Review Wednesday morning. "The core issue for me is how riders and drivers are insured while they're taking UberX rides. I'm not entirely happy with the bill, but we've been working on this and there are problems the bill addresses."
Uber says they carry a million dollar policy when passengers are in their vehicles, but UberX drivers provide their own private insurance that kicks in when they are not hauling passengers.
"That million dollar policy is to protect the company, not the driver nor the passenger," McConnaughay said. "You sign a waiver when you sign up for the program. Right now, I wouldn't want family or friends to get in a vehicle in which they are not insured. If there's an accident, Uber is off the hook. This legislation addresses that problem."
"And the idea that local control will be set aside is a weak excuse against the bill because anyone could be a UberX driver - its not just offered within Chicago city limits," McConnaughay said.
Uber says their biggest opponent - the taxi "medallion industry" - is focused on shutting down the competition, and using their clout with the state lawmakers to regulate them out of existence.
"There's no question the taxi industry wanted to eliminate the rideshare programs," McConnaughay said. "But we worked on the legislation to make changes, and while I'm not entirely happy with the bill, there is a need for insurance requirements to protect consumers."
HB 4075 has already passed the Illinois House, and is likely to be called for debate and a vote in the Illinois Senate Wednesday. Senate sponsors include Sen. Antonio Muñoz - Karen McConnaughay - Martin A. Sandoval - John M. Sullivan - Jacqueline Y. Collins, Steven M. Landek, Melinda Bush, Linda Holmes and Emil Jones, III.