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After New State Law, Milwaukee Stops Licensing Uber, Lyft Drivers

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
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In Milwaukee, people are turning to ridesharing services like Lyft. The company's cars are adorned with pink mustaches.

Milwaukee has stopped issuing licenses for drivers with rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft. The city’s announcement comes after Gov. Walker signed a bill Friday prohibiting local rideshare regulations.

The city of Milwaukee has licensed more than 200 Uber and Lyft drivers since last summer.

“The city provided, or conducted background checks on all driver applicants. The city required proof of insurance, which we would review and maintain,” says Ald. Bob Bauman.

Milwaukee also inspected drivers’ cars.

Other communities in Wisconsin were also discussing how to oversee the relatively new industry. It connects people who need rides with car owners who’d like to earn extra cash.

Republican Assemblyman Tyler August thought it was time for the state to become involved.

“Right now there’s kind of a patchwork of ordinances being discussed around the state and it’s really not the most workable way to provide these types of services,” he says.

The Legislature agreed. It passed a bill that removed local oversight of rideshare companies, and Gov. Walker signed it late last week.

Under the new law, companies must pay $5,000 to get a state license and conduct their own background checks.

The issue of safety arose when two Madison women told police they were victims of unwanted sexual contact by drivers for Uber. The new state law prohibits companies from employing sex offenders, habitual traffic offenders or people with drunken driving convictions.

Republican Sen. Paul Farrow says the regulations provide safeguards and support the budding rideshare industry.

“They have the opportunity to grow and be effective. We’re here to give them a good set of standards that they’re work by, making sure that they are safe, making sure that they are insured, making sure the equipment is in good shape. And they deliver a product that is going to be effective,” Farrow says.

“Any type of oversight has now been abandoned,” says Milwaukee Ald. Bob Bauman. “The only regulation is whatever the companies choose to impose.”

A recent blog post by Uber praised Gov. Walker and lawmakers for “positioning Wisconsin as a leader in modern transportation.”

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