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Uber and Lyft Return to Austin—to Push Texas Legislature for State Rules

Companies want regulations to override city's ordinance

Uber and Lyft might not be operating in Austin right now—they pulled out after losing a fight to change the city's ordinance regulating their industry in the city—but that doesn't mean they've given up their fight in Texas' capital city. On Wednesday, reported Austin Monitor's Caleb Pritchard, representatives from the two companies, as well as those from other transportation network companies now in the the city, spoke at a meeting of the State House of Representatives Business and Industry Committee to advocate for legislative action that would override Austin’s current ordinance.

According to the Monitor story, company reps Rena Davis from Lyft and Sarfraz Maredia of Uber urged legislators to adopt statewide TNC regulations that are more to those companies' liking. The two companies were specifically displeased with the Austin City Council's decree that they fingerprint drivers.

Pritchard reported some pushback from some committee members, with state Rep. Allen Fletcher (R-Cypress) telling the company advocates that comparing Texas to the 31 other states that have TNC regulations might cause believers in the state's "exceptionalism" to bristle. In addition, according to the Monitor, when committee chair Rep. René Oliveira (D-Brownsville) asked for evidence that Uber and Lyft are safer than conventional taxis, neither company advocate could provide it.

Representatives of other TNCs also spoke to the committee, Pritchard reported. He added that the CEO of Dallas-based GetMe, Michael Gaubert, seemed to impress state Rep. Matt Rinaldi (R-Farmer’s Branch) with his guest, former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver and three-time Super Bowl champion Michael Irvin, whom Gaubert called a "business partner."

The committee took no action at the meeting, but Pritchard noted that it seems likely some of its members are interested in pursuing the matter in January, when the 85th Legislature will begin its regular session.

Uber and Lyft swing by the Legislature [Austin Monitor]