A bill that could bring Lyft and Uber back to Austin is only one signature away from becoming law.
The Texas Senate passed HB 100 on second and third reading Wednesday.
The bill, if signed into law, will override local regulations of ride-hailing companies and give oversight to the state. The bill will now go to Governor Greg Abbott to be signed into law.
“I'm looking forward to his signature on that piece of paper,” said State Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown.
The bill will require ride-hailing companies to comply with state regulations and pay state fees. They would no longer need to submit to city regulations or fingerprint background checks as Austin had required them to do.
“Our public safety people told us that we were all safer with a biometrically linked background check and I trust my public safety officials,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler.
“Fingerprints have not shown or been proven to be affective in deterring individuals with bad intentions from driving,” Schwertner said.
After the majority of Austin voters chose to give the city oversight of ride-hailing companies last year, Lyft and Uber stopped operations in city limits. New companies like FARE, Fasten and RideAustin took over.
“That election was the people's opportunity to be able to speak very clearly about what they wanted, and the people spoke. It is disappointing that the legislature has the ability to come in and preempt us,” said Adler.
“I can tell you there's 500,000 people in Williamson County that were directly affected by decisions made by the City of Austin that didn't get to vote,” Schwertner said.
Without including the fingerprint requirement, Texas lawmakers paved the way for both Uber and Lyft to return to the Capital City.
“Assuming that the governor signs the bill, I hope they reenter the market here in town and try to meet the community’s needs and culture,” Adler said.
Uber Texas released a statement Wednesday that reads: "We look forward to making Uber available in more cities across Texas and continuing to serve drivers, riders, and the communities in which they live."
Having consistency in ride-hailing requirements statewide is one reason the majority of Texas lawmakers supported the legislation.
“I look at other cities that are nearby other cities that have other transportation services; taxi cabs that move back and forth, and that's never seemed to be a problem. So, I'm not convinced that that was the real reason why this was done here,” said Adler.
“23 percent of individuals that utilize ridesharing, transverse one municipality to another, and so it needs a regional solution or a statewide solution and I think ridesharing, TNC's need to be regulated at the state level,” Schwertner said.
Passage of HB 100 will make Texas the 41st state to adopt statewide ride-hailing regulations.
Because so many lawmakers voted in favor of HB 100, it will go into effect as soon as the governor signs it, and it seems like he's willing to do so.
In a tweet citing the bill, Governor Greg Abbott wrote, "Buckle up. Coming soon."