19 May, 2017
And it lays out a number of criminal offenses that, depending on when they occurred, could render a potential driver ineligible to provide ride-hailing services.
In a statement to the media Wednesday, Mayor Steve Adler said he was disappointed state lawmakers chose to undo the will of Austin voters. According to Joe Deshotel, a former communications manager with Ride Austin, a new nonprofit transportation network company (TNC) that formed after the big players left town, pre-emption of Austin's liberal laws has become an increasing common move by more conservative state legislators.
If the governor signs HB 100, companies like Uber and Lyft would be able to operate in all cities under a unified set of state rules. The Senate had passed Costello's version earlier in the session, but she said Wool's bill was improved. Back in April, under the law, ride-sharing had to wait three months before they could be up and running and since the budget was a week late.
An official inside the governor's office said the governor was expected to sign the bill into law.
It requires the companies to conduct criminal background and sex offender checks for drivers, but doesn't demand (as the Austin ordinance does) that the drivers be fingerprinted for such checks.
The Texas Legislature has cleared the road for Uber and Lyft to return to Austin on their own terms. Lyft pulled out of Houston a few years ago, while both Lyft and Uber left Austin because of the fingerprint requirement. The bill's Senate author, Sen. Charles Schwertner, the bill's sponsor in the Senate, suggesting that the licensing and background checks were onerous.
New rules would apply only to companies that connect drivers and not to taxi companies, which vigorously have opposed companies such as Uber and Lyft. Ride-share services can be banned in a municipality only by a voter initiative. "This bill is about protecting the safety of our constituents, as well as economic liberty". Jose Menendez, D-San Antonio.
"I don't understand why, in a transportation bill, we have to have the definition of what that condition would be", he said. But Menéndez said the language could "open the door to potentially discriminating against people who are transitioning" from one gender identification to another.