Council determines ballot language for May 7th ridesharing vote

With a May 7th election looming, the Political Action Committee "Ridesharing Works for Austin" who ended up forcing the council's hand with their citizens petition --  has a brand new website and video highlighting the efforts that got them this far.

The group's focus now is on getting people to the polls in May.
At a special-called city council meeting on Wednesday, City Clerk Jannette Goodall said they will work with the budget office and law department on the financial part.

"Hopefully by then we will have a better feel from the county, how many other entities will be on the May ballot and what our actual cost will be for that election," Goodall said.

It's estimated to cost between $500,000 and $900,000 -- un-budgeted...from the Support Services fund.
Council member Ann Kitchen proposed the ballot language council ended up approving.
It will ask voters if they think the current ordinance should be repealed and replaced with an ordinance that: "...would repeal and prohibit required fingerprinting, repeal the requirement to identify the vehicle with a distinctive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," the language says.

"We're required to be sure that we're clear and accurate in our language and that we include all of the major features," Kitchen said.

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

"I mean I just think it's a clear attempt to try to sway voters the way that this is framed," Troxclair said.

"The problem I have with the ballot language is it casts this in a negative light.  It doesn't tell you what you gain by the petitioners ordinance.  It tells you what you lose," Zimmerman said.

"The language we included says 'repeal and prohibit required fingerprinting' which is an accurate portrayal of what the petition ordinance does and we felt that if we didn't include that, it would be a major omission and it would be misleading to the voters," Kitchen said.

Zimmerman tried to amend the verbiage but the majority didn't support it.

"They left out the fact that the city is now going to receive maybe around a million dollars of revenue they haven't received since 2014.  So the 1% fee is in the ordinance you're voting on.  It's a key feature...but it was left out of the ballot language," Zimmerman said.

Council member Kitchen says the ridesharing discussions aren't completely over.  They've still got some work to do on leveling the playing field for ridesharing companies and other vehicles-for-hire like cab companies.