Two new state senate bills filed Monday may bring ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft back to Austin.
During the first day of the pre-filing of bills in the Texas Legislature’s 85th session, state sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas, filed Senate Bill 113 to “introduce sweeping changes to the relationship between municipalities and the entire ride-for-hire industry,” according to the senator’s press release.
Huffines wants to preempt any municipality in Texas from imposing “burdensome” regulations on taxicabs, limousines and transportation network companies (TNCs), the press release reads.
“Let’s tear down regulations to create a truly free market for every ride-for-hire business -- whether it’s Uber, Lyft or a more traditional taxi cab.”
State senator Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) is proposing senate bill 176 to essentially allow the state, rather than municipalities, to regulate ride sharing companies.
He said that means ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft would be provided a regulatory environment to "grow their business."
The bill also proposes a required national background check for all ride-sharing drivers, and the companies would have to obtain a statewide operating permit.
"It is light in regulation," said state senator Schwertner. "But I think regulation is appropriate in context, nature and extent."
Back in May of this year, Uber and Lyft were no longer in service in Austin after Proposition 1 was turned down by voters.
The City of Austin said they oppose senator state Schwertner's bill.
"The City of Austin’s legislative agenda provides clear direction that the City will protect Austin residents’ right to govern themselves and work with their City government to adopt and enforce ordinances that regulate transportation network companies," said Marissa Monroy, public information & marketing manager for the city's transportation department. "Therefore, to the extent that this language is contrary to the City’s legislative agenda, the City of Austin must oppose it."