AUSTIN (KXAN) — What does biological sex have to do with statewide regulations of companies like Uber and Lyft? Not much, but the full Texas Senate will soon debate the issue as the bill inches toward becoming law.
A section of House Bill 100 defines sex as “the physical condition of being male or female.” That section remained in the bill after it passed the Senate State Affairs Committee Thursday evening.
“We are disappointed that this unnecessary amendment is still included in legislation focused on adopting a consistent statewide framework for ridesharing. Uber’s comprehensive national non-discrimination policy will not change,” said Travis Considine from Uber.
Earlier this week HB100 was moved to the Senate State Affairs Committee over the Senate Transportation Committee. Thursday morning there was the discussion of removing the sex amendment from the bill but when the bill was voted on, it passed 5-1 with the amendment included.
It is unclear how this would impact the measure if it becomes law. Uber and Lyft both have non-discrimination policies that don’t allow discrimination against riders or drivers based on sex or gender identity.
A Lyft spokesperson says the amendment is unnecessary since the company already has “strong non-discrimination policy.”
Many see the measure as a foray into a hot-button political issue. Some state leaders have pushed for a number of bills requiring biological sex to determine what bathroom a Texan uses. The most prominent supporter is the leader of the Texas Senate Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Patrick’s office has not yet responded to KXAN on the controversial amendment.
Prominent “bathroom bills” such as Senate Bill 6 and House Bill 2899 have not gained traction in the House.
Last month, HB 100 by Rep. Chris Paddie, R-Marshall, passed the House. It would create statewide rules for rideshare companies without fingerprint background checks. Famously that would bring Uber and Lyft back to the city of Austin after voters required additional screenings. The companies found the fingerprint requirement a burdensome addition to their current security background check. Uber and Lyft discontinued service in Austin after the election.
The House sponsor and Senate sponsor of the bill, Rep. Paddie and Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, have not yet weighed in. Neither has the Senate State Affairs Committee Chair, Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston.
HB100 will be debated on the Senate Floor early next week. If no changes are made, it will go to the Governor’s desk to become law.