Ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft could be coming back to Austin and other areas of the state if a measure passed by the Texas House becomes law.
Earlier this week, lawmakers debated and passed House Bill 100 by State Rep. Chris Paddie (R–Marshall), which would preempt the “patchwork quilt” of local ordinances concerning ridesharing and replace it with a statewide regulatory framework.
Backed by Uber and Lyft, Paddie’s legislation, if passed, would allow the companies to return to cities such as Austin, Corpus Christi, and Galveston. The companies left all three cities after their local governments imposed a requirement that they fingerprint all of their drivers—a regulation they argued was unsustainable for their business model.
Because most ridesharing drivers only use Uber, Lyft, or similar companies to supplement their income, the companies were finding that the fingerprinting requirement created a barrier to entry and impeded their ability to attract drivers to offer rides to customers.
Paddie’s legislation does not require drivers to be fingerprinted and preempts local ordinances concerning the issue—allowing the companies to return and offer rides once more. However, it also imposes a statewide regulatory framework that is inconsistent with free market ideals.
The flawed and complicated measure passed by a vote of 110-35, with conservative and liberal members on both sides of the legislation. Similar measures by State Sens. Robert Nichols (R–Jacksonville) and Charles Schwertner (R–Georgetown) are moving through the Texas Senate and one is expected to pass relatively quickly.
Conservatives in the Texas Legislature should continue to look for opportunities to pass a stronger, free-market-oriented ridesharing bill and explore other local issues in need of preemption.