Former Austin Mayor backing Uber, Lyft in ridesharing fight

Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Former Austin Mayor, Lee Leffingwell, will become the new chair of Ridesharing Works for Austin the community.

Leffingwell will join in the highly debated ridesharing topic in Austin voting in favor of the Prop. 1 campaign. The current ridesharing rules in place were originally implemented by Leffingwell in 2014.

“I am proud to join the Vote For Prop. 1 campaign,” said Mayor Leffingwell. “I have been a strong proponent of public safety and economic opportunity during my time in public service. The rules that I and the City Council put in place in 2014 allowed for companies like Uber and Lyft to operate with stringent background checks while helping to reduce DWI accidents and providing safe, reliable rides for Austinites. On May 7th, I hope all Austin voters will join me in supporting Proposition 1.”

Voting in favor of Prop. 1 means keeping the current regulations in place, which require mandatory criminal background checks for ridesharing drivers, like Uber and Lyft.

Voting against Prop. 1 would implement fingerprint background checks in addition to criminal background checks. Uber and Lyft have been sharing their stance in opposition of fingerprint background checks. Both of the ridesharing companies have even threatened to leave Austin if Prop. 1 fails.

Many people in the community believe the City Council’s ballot language is confusing, inaccurate and only tells voters one side of the story. Voters are asking for clarity, not confusion, so they can decide what types of transportation options they want in Austin,” an Uber spokesperson wrote in a statement.

Currently, the ballot language reads as follows:

“Shall the City Code be amended to repeal City Ordinance No. 20151217-075 relating to Transportation Network Companies; and replace with an ordinance that would repeal and prohibit required fingerprinting, repeal the requirement to identify the vehicle with a distinctive emblem, repeal the prohibition against loading and unloading passengers in a travel lane, and require other regulations for Transportation Network Companies?”

The group opposing Prop. 1, Our City, Our Safety, Our Choice, will hold a press conference Tuesday, April 12 at 11:45 a.m. at Austin City Hall.

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