Austin mayor speaks out against statewide TNC regulations

Austin Mayor Steve Adler. (CBS Austin)

Testimony continues at the capitol to consider statewide regulation of transportation network companies.

Many people testified in favor of the bill, while Austin Mayor Steve Adler spoke out against it.

House Bill 100 would take the power of regulating ride share companies away from cities and give it to the state.

State Rep. Chris Paddie, District 9 (R-Marshall), who filed the bill, said 37 states have already adopted such legislation and it's time for Texas to do the same, but Mayor Adler doesn't want to lose local control.

"I hope the legislature continues to let cities govern themselves," Adler said.

At Thursday's hearing, Adler defended the city's controversial ride sharing rules.

"I'm a believer that the level of government that's closest to the people can best reflect what that community wants," Adler said.

In 2016, Uber and Lyft pulled out of Austin. The city demanded fingerprint background checks, it went to a vote and voters sided with the strict regulations in a special election.

Thursday, supporters of statewide rules said drivers being able to cross jurisdictional boundaries will make the state safer.

"There are many rural areas across the state that don't have access to TNCs right now," said Uber public affairs lead for Texas, Trevor Theunissen.

Austin City Council Member Ellen Troxclair said extra safety measures don't make ride-shares any safer.

"CapMetro, the largest transportation provider in our city, does not require fingerprint based background checks," Troxclair said.

Her stance on HB 100 differs from that of Mayor Adler.

"It only makes sense we have a fair and predictable statewide framework so that everybody can compete and the best providers can give you the best service at the best price," Troxclair said.

One concern raised came from a committee member, State Representative Ron Simmons, District 65 (R-Carrollton). He told Rep. Paddie that before the bill makes it to the house floor for debate, to ensure riders with disabilities, especially fixed wheel chairs, don't lose service.