You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

Adler says ride hailing bill tailor made for Uber, Lyft


Highlights

The ride-hailing giants have hired 40 lobbyists, costing at least $1.2 million, to push for statewide rules.

The House Transportation Committee heard arguments Thursday on HB 100 to ban local ride-hailing oversight.

Bills for statewide ride-hailing regulation are now pending in House and State committees.

Uber and Lyft executives, as they did in the 2015 session, have hired more than three dozen lobbyists at a cost of at least $1.2 million to plead the case for statewide regulation of ride-hailing services rather than the “patchwork” system of local laws now in place.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler, speaking Thursday to the House Transportation Committee as it considers House Bill 100 to ban local regulation of transportation network companies, said the interests of the two ride-hailing giants would be served by the bill.

“If you’re trying to draft a law for a particular company, this statute might do the job,” Adler said during a back-and-forth with state Rep. Larry Phillips, R-Sherman. Phillips had told Adler about the consternation of a fellow airline passenger arriving at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport this week and being told that the app for her preferred ride-hailing company wouldn’t work in Austin.

“It wasn’t seen like a progressive city at the time,” Phillips said. “It was kind of an embarrassing thing for the people from Austin” on the flight.

TEXAS POLITICS DELIVERED EVERY DAY: Sign up for our Texas Politics email

Adler noted that “we didn’t ask Uber and Lyft to leave” last year. The companies — unhappy with a December 2015 Austin ordinance that required fingerprinting of ride hailing drivers, that their cars have identifying markings of the companies, and that there be monthly, detailed reporting of rides — turned off their apps in Austin on May 9, two days after Austin voters rejected a substitute ordinance the companies devised.

Other ride-hailing startup companies have stepped in since. Phillips pointed to a much publicized several-hour shutdown of two of those companies’ apps last weekend. Adler countered that Uber had experienced a similar crash during last year’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, which he attended.

READ: Are Austin’s ride-hailing rules headed for the boneyard?

HB 100, carried by state Rep. Chris Paddie, R-Marshall, is identical to Senate Bill 176 by state Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown. That bill, and two others also taking ride-hailing rules statewide, were discussed in a Senate committee Tuesday and haven’t yet been voted on. The legislation from Paddie, who unsuccessfully carried a ride-hailing regulation bill in 2015, has 63 co-sponsors in the 150-member House. The transportation committee didn’t vote on the bill Thursday.

The bill wouldn’t require drivers to be fingerprinted for criminal background checks, as is mandated in Austin, Houston and Corpus Christi. That stipulation, among others, was critical to Uber’s and Lyft’s decision to leave in May. Uber still operates in Houston.

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK: Our Lone Star Politics page brings Capitol news to your Facebook feed

Committee members and some witnesses in support of HB 100 were at pains to defend Uber’s and Lyft’s method of checking prospective drivers’ background. The companies use third-party companies that scan public records based on applicants’ names, dates of birth and Social Security numbers.

“We know that no particular method is the magic key to preventing crime,” said Tim Ryle, chief deputy sheriff of Williamson County and a former Round Rock police chief. “Our state prisons are full of people who committed a new crime but have fingerprints on file. “Since Austin passed its ordinance, Uber and Lyft have continued to operate up in Williamson County, and we have had no crimes reported with their service.”

Paddie said the bill is about nurturing a valuable service, not its primary practitioners.

“This is not a bill about a specific city or specific company,” he said. “This is a bill about creating regulatory certainty for a growing industry.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Storms bring cooler weather to Austin, destruction to North Texas
Storms bring cooler weather to Austin, destruction to North Texas

At least five people were killed when a ravenous storm raced across North Texas Saturday night, however the Austin metro area was mostly spared with only some slight rain and hail that brought significantly cooler temperatures Sunday morning followed by sunny skies. The National Weather Service has confirmed that three tornadoes touched around Dallas...
Community news: Recycling research to be shared May 8

TRAVIS COUNTY EAST AUSTIN Recycling research shared The public is invited to an interactive presentation of the city of Austin’s new recycling tools from 6:30 to 8 p.m. May 8 at the Carver Branch Library at 1161 Angelina St. The presentation is being done by Austin’s Design, Technology and Innovation Fellows, in partnership with Austin...
Education nonprofit pushes entrepreneurship programs to older students
Education nonprofit pushes entrepreneurship programs to older students

Junior Achievement, the 98-year old nonprofit that teaches students about the economy and business, is having a rebirth in Central Texas schools with the goal of preparing more young people for Austin’s entrepreneurial culture. “When we relaunched two years ago, we knew we had to focus on what this community needed the most,” said...
Latest numbers show rising use of Austin-area toll roads
Latest numbers show rising use of Austin-area toll roads

The four toll roads in the Austin area operated by the Texas Department of Transportation, after having sparse traffic when they first opened a decade ago, have seen steadily increasing use. Based on figures from the first six months of the 2016-17 fiscal year, here are five things to know about the growing revenue of the Central Texas Turnpike System...
U.S. 290 shut down at William Cannon for tree in roadway, police say
U.S. 290 shut down at William Cannon for tree in roadway, police say

Both lanes of West U.S. 290 eastbound have been shut down just past West William Cannon Drive until authorities can remove a tree limb from the roadway, according to Austin police. The large tree branch fell down onto the road and authorities have to get the correct equipment to remove the limb from the roadway, police said. Drivers should expect some...
More Stories