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Colorado becomes first state to regulate ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft

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By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) – Colorado has become the first state to pass legislation regulating companies such as Uber and others that let the public hail rides from drivers via smartphone apps.

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Officials are grappling with how to regulate the fast growth of rides-on-demand services, which have drawn opposition from taxi and limousine operators who say the tech companies have an unfair advantage because they don’t face the same rules.

Colorado’s law, which passed with bipartisan support and was signed by Governor John Hickenlooper on Thursday, requires companies to carry $1 million in liability insurance, have their drivers pass background checks and their vehicles inspected by certified mechanics.

The measure’s Republican sponsor, Libby Szabo, said the emerging technology is “a great example of entrepreneurship.”

“The necessary safety regulations will be in place and these new, innovative transportation services will have the freedom to expand in Colorado,” she said.

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In a statement accompanying the bill-signing, Hickenlooper, a Democrat, said he remained concerned that the companies will be allowed to conduct their own background checks.

“We ask the (Public Utilities Commission) staff … to monitor this issue over time and report any identified problems,” he said.

Uber said on Friday it raised $1.2 billion in a funding round which valued the service at more than $18 billion – one of the highest price tags ever for a Silicon Valley startup.

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In a blog post, the company was fulsome in its praise for Colorado’s lawmakers, who it said had passed legislation that supported consumer choice and empowered small-business owners.

“With a vision for innovation, they resisted the misinformation and efforts of special interests and instead, proactively reached across the aisle to develop sensible regulations that allow ridesharing to thrive,” Uber said.

Uber was founded in 2009 by two U.S. technology entrepreneurs, Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, and has expanded to operate in 128 cities across 37 countries.

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(Editing by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Sandra Maler)

[Image: Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper lays out his plans for the next state legislative session at a news conference in his office at the Capitol in Denver December 19, 2013. By Rick Wilking for Reuters]

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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The last weekend in August marks the start of Burning Man, a week-long, festival in the Nevada desert consisting of freewheeling performance art, fanciful costumes, and a lot of drugs. The anarchic party with more than 50,000 attendees constitutes a pilgrimage for many attendees, lured by the promise of leaving the “default world” behind in exchange for a transformative or even spiritual experience.

This article originally appeared at Salon.

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WATCH: Trump’s collusion with Russia is now a topic for impeachment — along with obstruction and racism

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President Donald Trump's interactions with Russia are now a topic of the impeachment investigation.

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"Congresswoman Lauren Underwood of Illinois is one of the freshmen Democrats who flipped a Republican district last year in winning her election. She brings the total number of House Democrats supporting impeachment now to 126 -- a majority of the Democrats' 235 members of the House," he explained.

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