by Sarah J.F. Braley | May 18, 2017
Both houses of the Texas Legislature have now approved a bill that will override regulations in cities like Austin, Corpus Christi and Galveston that imposed strict background checks on ride-share drivers, including fingerprinting.
 
Gov. Greg Abbott, indicating his intention to sign the legislation, tweeted yesterday, "Buckle up. Coming soon," clearing the way for Uber and Lyft to return to those cities.
 
According to the state senate, Uber now operates in Houston and San Antonio, where fingerprinting is required; Lyft, however, currently does not operate in Houston. In other major cities, such as Dallas, Fort Worth and El Paso, fingerprinting is not required. 
 
The Austin American-Statesman reported that yesterday, Uber issued a statement saying that a statewide ride-hailing law "will help bring greater economic opportunity and expanded access to safe, reliable transportation options to more Texans." 
 
A Lyft spokesperson told M&C that the company plans to relaunch in Austin as soon as Gov. Abbott signs the bill into law. Lyft's statement on the legislation reads, "Ridesharing in Texas took a tremendous step forward today. Thank you to Senator Schwertner and Representative Paddie for defending consumer choice and all the stakeholders who have helped create safer roads and expand reliable, affordable rides for Texans. On behalf of the entire ridesharing community, thank you to all of the legislative champions who have helped guide this bill through the capitol."
 
According to Texas Monthly, Austin officials are not happy with the outcome, with Mayor Steve Adler saying, "I'm disappointed that the legislature chose to nullify the bedrock principles of self-governance and limited government by imposing regulations on our city over the objection of Austin voters." The magazine and the newspaper also noted that the bill that passed the Senate includes a "strange" amendment that defines "sex" as "the physical condition of being male or female."