Uber-backed Austinite asks Texas Supreme Court to intervene in ridesharing fight

After the successful "Ridesharing Works for Austin" petition, during a February meeting City Council decided to put the Ridesharing Works ordinance to the voters in a May 7th election.
Council Member Ann Kitchen proposed the ballot language council ended up approving -- asking voters if they think the current ordinance should be repealed and replaced with one that quote "...would repeal and prohibit required fingerprinting, repeal the requirement to identify the vehicle with a distinctive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."

Council Members Ellen Troxclair and Don Zimmerman both voted "no" to the language.

Now...Samantha Phelps, who is financially backed by Uber, has filed an Emergency Petition for Writ of Mandamus with the Texas Supreme Court -- calling the ballot language "confusing," "inaccurate" -- and only giving voters a small part of the story.

An Uber spokesperson told Fox 7 "Voters are asking for clarity, not confusion, so they can decide what types of transportation options they want in Austin."

It's a sentiment Council Member Don Zimmerman agrees with.

"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.

Zimmerman says the writ is very-well done...and he wants in on it.

"I've asked my attorneys to see if I can join this because I do agree with the objectives and the rationale behind it," Zimmerman said.

Council Member Kitchen doesn't understand why the writ was filed so late in the game.

"First off it's been a while...it's been three weeks," she said.

Kitchen says the ballot language is clear.

"We did everything we could to make sure that it fairly represents what's in that initiative.  And that's what the law requires.  And we are prepared as a city to defend the actions that we took," Kitchen said.

We did reach out to the Texas Supreme Court public information officer about the writ and have not heard back as of news time tonight.

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