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BLOG: Lawmaker removes LGBT protections from rideshare bill

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A bill that would regulate rideshare services like Uber and Lyft at the state level passed the Oklahoma Senate without any protections for same-sex riders.

House Bill 1614 would require all rideshare drivers to obtain a permit from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, along with meeting other standards related to insurance coverage. While the House-passed version outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation, Sen. Jason Smalley, co-sponsor of the bill, removed that language prior to its passage in the Senate.

"I believe if a private business owner wants to serve or not serve an individual, they have that purview right now," Smalley, a Republican, told the Associated Press.

Oklahoma Gazette left a message with Smalley's office seeking further comment.

HB 1614 passed the Senate on Wednesday, 35-11. None of the Senate’s eight Democrat members voted in favor of the bill, although Sens. Randy Bass and Susan Paddack were excused votes. Five Republicans voted against the bill, but none could be immediately reached for comment late Thursday afternoon regarding their reasons.

The Oklahoma City council enacted its own regulatory guidelines over Uber and Lyft last year, which both companies said was unnecessary and burdensome.

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