Austin's TNC referendum ballot language will not be rewritten
UPDATE: The Texas Supreme Court has denied the motion to change the language in Austin's ride-hailing referendum ballot.
Further details were not immediately available. We will update this developing story as we learn more.
Supporters of a citywide referendum to rewrite the rules for ride-hailing companies in Austin are now focusing on rewriting the ballot language. These groups are going to the state's highest civil court to make sure their supporters hear the right words.
Supporters of the Transportation Network Companies or TNCs are coming to the Texas Supreme Court complaining that Austin's ballot language is too negative, misleading, and illegal. When you read the ballot, it is about repealing rules the majority of the council believes would improve safety. But Council Member Ann Kitchen explains, "The law is about what you put on the ballot is clear for people. And so we followed the law and we did everything to make sure that the ballot language fairly represents what this petition is about."
Fellow Council Member Don Zimmerman isn't surprised someone is challenging the ballot. He voted against the ballot wording and is now considering joining the legal challenge. He says, "Because in my view it would be possible for the taxi companies -- if they lose the election -- they could have the election thrown out for faulty ballot language. And we want to stop that from happening by taking this action now."
We reached out to Uber for an interview on this issue. They responded with a written statement about the ballot language saying, "It only tells voters about the regulations that will be repealed and not the common sense safety regulations that would be restored." They say that would include requiring drivers pass a national criminal background check and banning convicted criminals from driving.
The real sticking point on the rules for these TNCs still is the finger-printing requirement. They've already left Galveston and Midland over these rules, and come Sunday they're going to leave Corpus Christi.