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Baker Signs Law Regulating Uber, Lyft In Massachusetts

BOSTON (CBS/AP) — Massachusetts has joined the more than 30 other states that regulate ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft.

Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law on Friday a bill that was passed by lawmakers during the final moments of the 2015-2016 legislative session.

Baker, who originally filed a similar measure with lawmakers in April 2015, said the law provides for "safe and diverse transportation options," and requires the strongest state background check of drivers in the nation.

"This is a highly charged issue," said Governor Baker. "To put in place a statewide framework that dealt with public safety issues, insurance issues and vehicle identification issues."

The new law will also require ride-hailing companies to pay a 20-cent per ride fee, a portion of which would go toward helping taxi drivers who have been hurt by the new technology. The fee cannot be passed on to consumers.

It also allows ride share companies to pick up fares at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center and gives Massport the go-ahead to let them pick up people at Logan Airport.

In January, Uber driver Alejandro Done was charged with kidnapping and sexual assault of a woman passenger. Now, drivers will undergo two sets of background checks. The companies will conduct one. The state will conduct the second looking into criminal history and the sex offender registry.

Even though one proposal called for fingerprinting, which Boston taxi drivers are subject to, legislators stopped short of that for Uber and Lyft.

"There has to be checks and balances. I make my own personal rules. I use it during the day. I don't use it by myself," said Jennifer Sullivan, who uses a ride-hailing company.

Uber and Lyft both issued statements supporting the new law.

"It might cut into the money, but it could be better though, it could be less drivers, less competition, more reliable drivers," said Adam Abrams, who drives for Fasten.

Some riders are concerned about the flip side.

"If there's less people doing it then prices would go up," said Aaron Selya, who uses ride-hailing services.

Brian Washburn uses Uber or Lyft twice a week. "It's just easier," he said.

He's surprised regulations were not given a green light sooner. "It's something they should do if they are entrusted with someone's safety," said Washburn.

WBZ-TV's Katie Brace contributed to this report.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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