'Vote For Prop 1' supporting ridesharing vote while Travis Co. Democrats say 'No'

What started as "Ridesharing Works for Austin" is now "Vote For Prop 1." The group held a press conference at the Blind Pig on Sixth Street Wednesday.

Samantha Phelps was there.  She's a local ridesharing advocate and bartender that recently asked the Texas Supreme Court to intervene because of the ballot language council approved.

"So the ballot language came out.  It's a little misleading and confusing for people who haven't been following this campaign and this debate.  So when Uber approached me to help, that's when I decided I wanted to get involved," Phelps said.

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The Supreme Court ruled against making the city change the language.

So in May, voters will be asked if they think the current ordinance should be repealed and replaced with one that quote "...would repeal and prohibit required fingerprinting, repeal the requirement to identify the vehicle with a distinctive emblem, repeal the prohibition against loading and unloading passengers in a travel lane, and require other regulations for Transportation Network Companies."

Phelps says voters who aren't familiar with the issue may get the wrong idea.

"If I don't vote for Prop 1 then I'm not going to have any safety features, I'm not going to have any security checks or any backgrounds and Council Member Zimmerman said this -- the ballot language implies that everything is being taken away," Phelps said.

Council Member Don Zimmerman did say that earlier this month.

"If the voters approve it, the city's going to get a million dollars of revenue that they're not getting right now that they have not gotten since the 2014 ordinance was put in place and there are penalties for not following the ordinance.  Of course background checks are in there.  There's a lot of stuff that's in there that people would like but the ballot language is written very negatively in my opinion to get people to vote against it," Zimmerman said.

The Travis County Democratic Party is encouraging voters to say "no" to Prop 1.  Communications director Joe Deshotel says the ballot language is clear.

"I think the language lays out exactly what the changes are about and the fact that they want to change that -- to not include the word 'fingerprint' when that's the reason that they decided that they would have to leave is disturbing," Deshotel said.

The Democratic Party feels the issue is an example of corporations trying to write their own rules.

"The idea that they're saving lives through drunk driving is probably very accurate and it's just really upsetting that they would essentially hold the city hostage based on the fact that they're saying 'We'll leave if we don't get our way,'" Deshotel said.

The "Vote For Prop 1" campaign who as a whole believes the ballot language is confusing will now be educating voters and making sure they know what the ordinance really consists of.

Representatives for Lyft were at the press conference today.  They sent us a statement:

"Tens of thousands of Austinites have rallied behind ridesharing, and Lyft is continuing to support efforts to make sure their voices are heard on May 7th. Ridesharing in Austin has created new economic opportunities, is providing a critical element to the Central Texas transportation network and is keeping drunk drivers off the road.  All ridesharing users in the city, whether riders or drivers, now have a singular cause to rally behind to vote for Prop 1 and protect their right to safe, affordable rides in Austin."

 

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