Austin council member wants Prop 1 decision voided

Prop 1 flyers (KXAN Viewer Photo)
Prop 1 flyers (KXAN Viewer Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Even though Austin voters have made their decision on Proposition 1 regarding the regulation of ridesharing companies, Austin Council Member Don Zimmerman says the decision should be overturned because the ballot language was misleading. Along with asking the court to void the election decision, Zimmerman wants the city to hold a new election with new ballot language.

Zimmerman’s lawsuit, which was filed Thursday against Austin Mayor Steve Adler, states voters were not told that the fingerprint background checks were actually unenforceable. The suit goes on to say the City Council also painted “a one-sided picture designed to persuade voters that the amendment would reduce safety.”

Official ballot language:

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?”

In January, the group Ridesharing Works for Austin was able to gather enough petition signatures to force the city council to hold an election on the ordinance the city passed in 2015 regulating ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft.

The District 6 council member says Council Member Ann Kitchen proposed the ballot language that Austinites ended up voting on on May 7. At the time, in front of council, Zimmerman opposed it saying the language included the word “repeal” in it three times. Uber agreed with the council member stating, “the language focuses on what would be repealed, but fails to mention the ordinance would maintain a national, criminal background check and would ban certain convicted criminals from driving.”

According to Travis County voting records, constituents in Zimmerman’s district (which mainly covers northwest Austin) voted 52 percent Against and 48 percent For Prop 1. Citywide the proposition failed 56 percent to 44 percent.

In response to the suit, Adler’s office issued the following: “The Mayor stands by the ballot language, but if Council Member Zimmerman disagrees, and he seems to, then taking his question to court is the right way to go.”

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