I really like the choice of analogy. I've never used Uber and don't expect to anytime soon, but I'm torn between wanting people to act responsibly (have reasonable insurance) and wanting to see stupid bureaucratic laws (you're commercial because that prevents competition) improved to be understandable and reasonable.
I believe there are a lot of US citizens like me who engage in and abstain from behaviors because it is critical to our employment while we're not actively doing the work we're paid to do. I went to bed early last night because I needed to in order to perform well at my job, got up early today, and I bathed, and I stayed sober, and I drove to work and I took an elevator and I logged into my computer but only then did I start to be considered "doing my job" even though everything leading up to that point was necessary to perform my work. Up until I logged into my computer at my job, I don't think my employer would assume any liability for anything happening to me. It is at that point which I would consider myself at work and I think the law would consider me at work. If I were a chef, I don't think the definition would change at all.
Uber drivers are apparently considered to be at work by this law even before they get to the point when they're actually doing the thing they get paid to do, unlike my situation where I'm not at work until I'm actually prepared to begin doing the thing I get paid to do. That strikes me as unfair.
Sticking to the chef analogy, lets say I'm a freelance private chef, which I think is a pretty good parallel. The expectation I'd have for my job is that I'd get paid starting at the time when I arrive at my destination and am ready to begin cooking. That leaves out the drive to the location, the shopping and planning prior and any semblance of sobriety I felt obligated to maintain. Apparently if I work in Kansas as a freelance private chef, however, I'm on the hook for being on the job from the moment I open my email to see if I have any jobs today.
No job works like that. Cab drivers are on the job when they get in the company vehicle and turn on the dispatch radio, but Uber drivers aren't in a company vehicle and logging into the app is the equivalent of me checking my email.
I grok the problem Kansas is trying to resolve: Kansas requires specific things in order to participate in a market in order to keep the public safe and Uber is not participating in that market in the expected manner and so didn't expect to have to follow the rules that didn't seem to affect the parts of the market they weren't participating in. When you have a situation where the laws don't fit the behavior and you think the laws should be applicable, it is absolutely correct to modify the laws.
So I'm happy to see Kansas taking the approach they have to a problem of legal loopholes by closing the loopholes. At the same time, I'm concerned that in the process, they're also eroding the freedom to engage in commerce without an unreasonable legal burden. If the same thing happened to freelance chefs, they'd go from being able to provide a reasonable service at a reasonable price to being out of business with no gain to the public.
If an Uber driver isn't actively doing something they're paid to do, why are they forced by legislation to do something nobody else logging into an app is forced to do?
I honestly believe that the answer to my question is: This is to use the law to create an artificially high barrier to participating in this type of activity in order to protect the status quo at the cost of the public good. I'm interested to see any better explanations.