Clearing up the 'confusing' ridesharing ballot chatter | Early voting begins

Fingerprint background checks for drivers have been the main point of contention in the seemingly endless ridesharing debate at City Hall.
   
A majority of the City Council members believe companies like Uber and Lyft should have to fingerprint their drivers but Uber and Lyft say they can't operate that way.  So they've threatened to leave the city if fingerprinting becomes a requirement.

District 5's Ann Kitchen and others want voters to say "no" to Prop 1.

Council member Ann Kitchen says a "no" vote for Prop 1 means drivers for ridesharing companies will have to get fingerprinted.  And there's benchmarks.  Companies have to be 50% in compliance by August, 99% by next February.

So to recap: Voting "no" for Prop 1 means fingerprinting will be a requirement.  Voting "yes" means fingerprinting won't be required. 

But Uber and Lyft will continue doing their own extensive national background checks with oversight by the Austin Transportation Department. 

Something else City Council wants: trade dress on ridesharing vehicles.

If you vote "yes" to Prop 1 in May, that won't be a requirement. 

Another recap: voting "no" means trade dress is required, voting "yes" means trade dress won't be mandatory but ridesharing companies will still require the apps to show a picture of the driver, the vehicle and the license plate number.

The city also wants to put some boundaries on where a driver can drop off and pick up passengers.  They don't want drivers just stopping in a travel lane to do that. 

So if voters say "no" to Prop 1, you'll get that travel lane restriction.  If you vote "yes" to Prop 1 there's no such requirement. 

But ridesharing companies will still prohibit "street hails" -- users can only get rides using the app.

And whether voters say "yes" or "no" to Prop 1, both of those ordinance options will require ridesharing companies to pay some form of annual fee to the City of Austin.

This afternoon a group of Austin City Council members came out to the free speech area to set the record straight in their view about some of the fine print details.

Mayor Pro-tem Kathie Tovo along with council members Kitchen, Houston, Garza and Renteria addressed claims by the Prop 1 campaign that they say are misrepresentations and lies and they wanted to correct statements made by Vote For Prop 1 about the city's involvement in the fingerprinting process if voters end up going with the "no" vote.

“Nothing is more misleading than the ballot language crafted by the city council, which is a powerful example of voter misinformation. It is because the ballot language was crafted to be misleading to voters that the vote for Prop. 1 campaign is necessary at all. City council has not prepared for a city takeover of the system. The council has yet to specify how much it will cost taxpayers to properly administer the program when they take it over. They also haven't provided any responsive information to ensure compliance with the ordinance.” said Travis Considine, Spokesperson for Vote for Prop 1.

"You're not creating any more city bureaucracy than if you vote 'For,' it's the same.  Under all the ordinances a third party can manage the fingerprint process, it doesn't have to be the city.  And that's the same thing that's happening now," Kitchen said.

"It talks about the council taking on criminal background checks, taking on that expense and if you look back at the ordinance we adopted, that just simply isn't true.  It talks about that the city may assist, it does not commit the city to assist drivers in that cost," Tovo said.

The council members say if they do end up helping drivers pay for the fingerprinting, that money will come from the additional 1% fee included in the city's version of the ordinance.
 

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