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State bills could strip cities of ride-hailing regulation rights

Uber and Lyft are back—at the Capitol, anyway

Texas cities’ rights to regulate ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft (and Fasten and Ride Austin and so on) could be nullified during the upcoming session of the Texas Legislature.

While ride-hailing companies’ appeals to the Lege to institute statewide regulations aren’t exactly a surprise—and started well before Uber’s and Lyft’s dramatic exits from Austin in March—at least two bills to that effect have been filed for the upcoming session, reports Audrey McGlinchy on radio station KUT’s website.

According to McGlinchy, SB 176, filed by state Senator Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) would turn regulation—and the right to collect up to $125,000 annually in fees from each company—over to the state.

If signed into law, McGlinchy added, the bill would require driver background checks and that companies check sex offender registries and validate criminal records, though how that is done would be up to the company. Required fingerprinting—the flashpoint of this spring’s TNC dustup in Austin—would probably not be required as a result, according to McGlinchy.

In what seems like a strange arrangement, ride-hailing companies could opt out of providing wheelchair-accessible rides, but could nevertheless be fined up to $20,000 a year for failing to provide such if the bill passes, McGlinchy reported.

According to the story, state Senator Don Huffines (R-Dallas) filed a similar bill—one that takes TNC regulation power from cities but contains fewer details about what the state would require of the companies in such a case.

Ride-Hailing Fight Officially Heads to State Legislature [KUT]