Texas House OKs statewide ride hailing rules, defying Austin

The Texas House has voted to create statewide regulations for ride-hailing companies, potentially voiding a local Austin ordinance that caused Uber and Lyft to stop operating in the state capital. (Photo: Pexels)

The bill to regulate ride-hailing apps statewide passed the Texas House with an overwhelming 110-37 vote on the second reading.

State leaders spent five hours at the Capitol debating 19 amendments to HB 100.

The bill, authored by Rep. Chris Paddie, a Republican from Marshall, will supersede Austin's--and every other city's--current ordinance.

“As of this morning, Florida passed a statewide bill and became the 41st state to pass framework like this,” Paddie said.

House Democrats from Houston and Austin tried to block the bill using points of order. The debate stretched on for hours, but it passed Wednesday 110-37.

Nearly a dozen of the 19 amendments were rejected. One of the most controversial topics and the reason Uber and Lyft pulled out of Austin is the requirement of fingerprint background checks.

"We need to make sure we are protecting citizens of this state and at least allow cities to protect their citizens so we don’t have folks getting in the car with people they shouldn’t be getting in a car with,” said Rep. Yvonne Davis.

Davis’s amendment to HB 100 would require fingerprint background checks, but was tabled.

“There seems to be this false sense of security in the fact that we did fingerprints as opposed to these background checks that I believe are more extensive and better serve the purpose,” Paddie said.

Paddie's bill requires annual background checks, but not fingerprinting.

A third and final reading is scheduled for Thursday. It is expected to pass quickly and be more of a formality.

The bill will then be sent to the Texas Senate.

Ride share companies Uber and Lyft have expressed support of a state-wide legislation in the past, but it’s still unclear if and when they could return to the Austin market.