by William Skink
The popular ride-sharing service known as Uber has apparently hit a snag in Montana and that snag is insurance:
Following the licensing of ride-sharing services in Montana in December, floods of interested drivers began filing with Uber for driving permits.
Vaclav Trnka, a Billings man, worked as a taxi driver in his home country, and was very excited to learn Uber would start operating in Montana.
“Driving is kind of very comfortable for me and I’m thinking this is a good opportunity because you can drive when you want,” said Trnka.
Uber’s motto is all about convenience.
But now, Montanans like Trnka are finding that many insurance companies are putting the brakes on the ride-sharing service.
“Since my insurance company Progressive says no, I called several other insurances and they do some research and everyone has the same rules for Montana,” said Trnka. “They don’t let you drive for money basically.”
I was critical of this bipartisan effort to deregulate Montana for Uber, writing this post in May of last year.
Despite this legislation receiving bipartisan support, Don Pogreba is now trying to score some partisan points at ID after his quest to get info on this legislative effort has been thwarted:
One has to wonder just what’s in that massive collection of e-mails. Perhaps there is an explanation for why those who wrote and promoted the bill failed to see that insurance would present a problem for drivers who wasted their money on UBER inspections. Perhaps there’s some information about who influenced the legislation and how. Perhaps some member of the media can make a public records request for the spreadsheet of e-mails that was generated, because this citizen isn’t getting the information he asked for.
Maybe Don should enlist the help of Rep. Hill, a Democrat from Missoula. Rep. Hill was an enthusiastic supporter of this legislation and may be able to help Don get the information he wants, unless of course there is something there that she doesn’t want to see the light of day.
Personally, I’m not surprised those who wrote and supported this bill failed to see this insurance problem. Why? Because one of those co-sponsors didn’t anticipate how the increase in price for getting a Montana ID could impact poor people, something I also wrote about:
I found out today the Motor Vehicle Division of the Montana Department of Justice will be doubling the cost of state ID’s in July, from $8.oo to $16.oo. The reason? These new ID’s will now be 8 year ID’s instead of the measly 4 years they are now. So if you’re looking to replace a lost or stolen ID—not a rare occurrence—it’s going to cost you double.
The reason I know all this is because the information was offered, quite unsolicited, by the nice lady I happened to be talking to at Missoula’s Motor Vehicle Division.
She went on to say that this increase was not “asked for”. Apparently this decision to increase cost came from our lovely state legislature, though I haven’t verified that. I asked: would a 4 year option still be available? She replied: no.
Even more embarrassing, Rep. Hill made a comment on that post that wasn’t accurate, so I guess she isn’t even informed about the legislation she is promoting. Here is a portion of that comment:
The bill had virtually no opposition and it was an effort to create equity for individuals who purchase identification cards in lieu of driver’s licenses. I was asked to carry the bill by a Missoula constituent, the President of the Montana Federation for the Blind… a helluva nice guy.
As you pointed out, in our post-9/11 nanny-state, we need an state-issued I.D. to take a leak anymore and for people who don’t drive (like blind and disabled people), they were forced to operate by more onerous standards to obtain and maintain that I.D. than someone who is able to obtain a simple driver’s license.
In short, they were forced to go back to the DMV more often than necessary just because they can’t drive. Folks still have the option to purchase the four year I.D. if they want. The bill created options and I don’t believe it “gouges” Montana consumers whatsoever.
And here is my reply:
maybe there’s an issue with how this is being interpreted by the motor vehicle department, because I put in a call today just to make sure I have been told accurate information, and the person I talked to, after speaking with her supervisor, confirmed that, if you’re over 21, a 4-year state ID is not an option.
So, yes, it’s not surprising that sometimes legislators are short-sighted when it comes to anticipating potential problems with the bills they are turning into state law.