Gov. Greg Abbott this morning signed House Bill 100, which establishes statewide ride-hailing regulations in Texas and preempts city regulations that drove out Uber and Lyft last year.
At the Texas Department of Transportation campus on Riverside Drive, Abbott called the regulations in Austin, which required fingerprint-based background checks, “heavy-handed.” Abbott singled out Austin explicitly in his remarks at the ceremonial signing.
“In Austin, Texas, whenever we have the opportunity at the Capitol, we’re going to override burdensome, wrong-headed regulatory barriers that disrupt the free enterprise system upon which Texas has been based,” he said.
New state regulations would require only name-based background checks at the city, state and national levels.
The law is more in keeping with the rules sought by Uber and Lyft last year, when the two ride-hailing giants sought name-based checks, not the fingerprint-based checks preferred by the city. Voters backed the city's rules in what was the most expensive municipal election in Austin ever.
Abbott repeatedly said the city’s decision to require those checks limited choice for residents, calling ride-hailing regulations in Austin and other cities a “patchwork quilt of regulations.”
“In the state of Texas, everyone is going to have the freedom to choose the transportation provider of their choice and every employee, every company, is going to be able to compete in an open marketplace to provide the best product that consumers want the most,” he said.
Uber and Lyft didn’t waste any time in getting back on the road in Austin. Lyft’s app relaunched shortly before 11 a.m.; Uber relaunched shortly before noon.
But the big two aren’t alone in the ride-hailing market here. Several alternatives stepped up following Uber's and Lyft’s exits – chiefly, Boston-based Fasten and Ride Austin, a local nonprofit.
Audrey McGlinchy contributed to this report.