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AMENDMENTS REJECTED: House gives initial OK to statewide ride-hailing legislation


Highlights

The House will consider HB 100, which has enough co-sponsors to pass in the 150-member chamber.

The legislation would ban local ride-hailing laws, and put the companies under a state agency.

Another bill pending in the Senate likewise bars local regulation, but has no state agency over the industry.

3:30 p.m. update: A bill that would take ride-hailing regulation statewide, and smother Austin’s 2015 ordinance governing the industry, easily passed the Texas House on Wednesday after an exhaustive five-hour debate and rejection of more than a dozen amendments.

Those proposed changes, generally proposed by Austin and Houston Democrats and rebuffed by 100 or more representatives, included attempts to require ride-hailing companies to fingerprint their drivers and to abide by local public votes on ride-hailing regulation. The bill passed on second reading 110-37.

Austin Reps. Celia Israel, Donna Howard, Dawnna Dukes and Eddie Rodriguez — all of them Democrats — voted against the bill. Central Texas Republican Reps. Paul Workman, Tony Dale and Jason Isaac voted for it.

The legislation, House Bill 100, sponsored by Rep. Chris Paddie, R-Marshall, will require another vote, perhaps occurring as early as Thursday, for final passage.

Paddie’s bill would put businesses such as Uber, Lyft, Fasten and RideAustin under the oversight of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation and includes substantial annual fees for those businesses. An amendment submitted by Paddie, and easily approved, increased those fees to cover the estimated $120,000 a year cost to the state of administering the law.

The bill would not require ride-hailing companies to have their drivers undergo fingerprinting for criminal background checks, as is the case with local laws in Austin, Houston and Corpus Christi. Uber and Lyft, the industry leaders, object to such a requirement — the businesses prefer to do checks based on documents such as drivers licenses and Social Security registration — and shut down their apps in Austin because of the city law that mandates it.

11:45 a.m. update: House members from Houston and Austin appear to be trying to stop the ride-hailing bill in the only way possible when the other side already had a vote majority: points of order.

First state Rep. Armando Walle, D-Houston, filed a point of order, saying the bill analysis was misleading. Then state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, followed with a similar move. Both points of order were rejected by the chair.

Earlier: A bill that would take ride-hailing regulation statewide, and thus smother Austin’s 2015 ordinance governing the industry here, is expected to sail through the Texas House Wednesday.

The legislation, House Bill 100, sponsored by state Rep. Chris Paddie, R-Marshall, would require a second vote as early as Thursday for final passage.

Paddie’s bill would put businesses such as Uber, Lyft, Fasten and RideAustin under the oversight of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation and includes substantial annual fees for those businesses.

It would not require ride hailing companies to have their drivers undergo fingerprinting for criminal background checks, as is the case with local laws in Austin, Houston and Corpus Christi. Uber and Lyft, the industry leaders, object to such a requirement — the businesses prefer to do checks based on documents such as drivers licenses and Social Security registration — and shut down their apps in Austin because of the city law that mandates it.

Paddie and House Bill 100 have 77 co-sponsors, from both parties, more than the 76-vote threshold needed to pass a bill through the House.

Awaiting in the Senate is Senate Bill 361, by state Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, which likewise overrules local ride hailing bills but does not put the businesses under the auspices of a state agency. The Senate could go with the Nichols’ approach instead — a bill identical to Paddie’s has not been approved by a committee — leaving the two chambers to reconcile the differences between the two approaches.



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