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WASHINGTON (AP) — The D.C. Council has approved a bill that regulates popular ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft.

The bill gained initial approval on Tuesday by a 12-1 vote.

Among other things, it would require that drivers for smartphone-based vehicle-for-hire services be at least 21 years old and be subjected to background checks for criminal history, sex offenses and driving history. Drivers would also be required to carry liability insurance.

One of the bill’s sponsors, Democratic Councilmember Mary Cheh, says the bill ensures public safety and consumer protection without creating “artificial obstacles” for such services.

Taxi drivers protested the bill, saying it gives Uber and other companies an unfair advantage. Uber hailed its passage, saying the District of Columbia “has become a trailblazer in the transportation industry by embracing innovation.”

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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