In mid-March, the Senate Committee on Business & Commerce heard testimony on legislation that would eliminate the patchwork quilt of regulations concerning ridesharing and set a universal standard across the state for transportation network companies, drivers, and passengers.
Currently, reform efforts focus on two items of legislation, SB 176 presented by State Sen. Charles Schwertner (R–Georgetown), and SB 361 presented by State Sen. Robert Nichols (R–Jacksonville). Both proposals would ease regulations imposed on ridesharing companies, like Uber and Lyft, and remove items imposed by cities such as in Austin and Galveston.
In presenting his legislation, Nichols cited the lack of need for a fingerprint background check, the most common barrier to entry in the cities which pass ridesharing regulations, arguing that many other professions, even those which would require an employee to enter your home, do not require a fingerprint background check.
Nichols also argued removing unnecessary regulations were important to maintain Texas’ status as a rising tech mogul in not just the country, but the world.
“Let the free market work and I think it will,” said Nichols.
Also arguing in support of regulation reduction, Schwertner cited many of the same sentiments that Nichols did, but also made an economic argument. After Austin voters voted to kick Uber and Lyft out of town, Schwertner says he got calls regarding “5,000 pink slips in [his] district.”
In front of a packed room, the committee heard wide-ranging testimony for and against the particular legislation. Most of the arguments against the proposed legislation came from bureaucratic officials within some of Texas’ biggest and bluest cities, including both Austin and Houston.
Ridesharing advocates were also split with industry behemoths, Uber and Lyft, arguing in favor of a statewide preemption of local ordinances, and smaller companies competing for market share supporting the regulatory regimes.
Often, these companies’ support appears bought by local governments and taxi unions who provide them with money, loans, and a noncompetitive passenger pool in exchange for selling their competition down the river.
Citizens across Texas should demand that lawmakers pass conservative, pro-business, free market legislation that provides greater ability to choose products and services that are right for them.
The Texas Legislature should stand for state sovereignty and prevent leftist city governments from stifling both innovation and employment.