In a not entirely surprising turn of events, the Texas House of Representatives voted to approve statewide regulation of ride-hailing companies, the Spectrum News television channel reported Wednesday.
It’s been no secret that national ride-hailing behemoths Uber and Lyft heavily lobbied the state Legislature for such rules in the wake of Austin’s refusal to accept the companies’ desired changes to its local regulation in a high-profile vote in May.
While the main point of contention might have been over the requirement of fingerprinting for licensed transportation network drivers, some held that the vote had more to do with the role private companies should play in public policy, particularly on the local level.
Rep. Chris Paddie, R-Marshall, sponsored the bill, which brings TNCs under Texas regulators' control, while requiring them to pay fees to the state, according to the Spectrum story. The bill requires annual background checks, but not the universally dreaded fingerprinting, which has been at the core of much of the debate in Texas and across the country.
Opponents held that the fingerprinting doesn’t increase rider safety, while supporters held that the fingerprint requirement was a straw man whose opposition was meant to send a larger message about who would regulate the industry and how.
In a weird and disturbing, last-minute twist, taxi companies made a play for leveling the TNR playing field, and a strange and confusing amendment that did pass attempts to define 'sex' as the physical condition of being male or female as it pertains to ride-hailing.
"I just want to define what 'sex' means to keep, clean, clarification for drivers, owners of the business and customers," said Rep. Tony Tinderholt, R-Arlington.
We have to ask, of course, why?
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• Texas House OKs Statewide Ride-Hailing Rules, Defying Austin [Spectrum News]