Uber, Lyft back in Austin after governor signs statewide ride-hailing law

Gov. Greg Abbott signs House Bill 100 into law on May 29, 2017, paving the way for Uber and Lyft to return to Austin. (KXAN Photo/Frank Martinez)
Gov. Greg Abbott signs House Bill 100 into law on May 29, 2017, paving the way for Uber and Lyft to return to Austin. (KXAN Photo/Frank Martinez)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Gov. Abbott signed House Bill 100 into law Monday morning, clearing the road for ride-sharing giants Uber and Lyft to return to Austin.

The bill supersedes Austin’s fingerprinting requirement for ride-hailing companies. Uber and Lyft stopped operating in the city more than a year ago, after Austinites voted to require fingerprinting as part of background checks for drivers. The new statewide law requires annual background checks, but not fingerprinting.

“Texas has longtime been the home for innovation and economic growth, but a patchwork quilt of compliance complexities are forcing businesses out of the Lone Star State,” Gov. Abbott said in a statement. “My goal as Governor is to remove the barriers of government to encourage competition, and empower customers to choose.”

The Texas Senate approved the bill 21-9 on May 17. Initially, the vote was 20-10, but Sen. Van Taylor, R-Plano, went back and voted for House Bill 100 so the Senate could have a two-thirds vote, which means the law went into effect immediately when the governor signed it.

“Today’s bill signing creates a ridesharing network in Texas that benefits consumers, expands transportation options, maximizes access to safe, affordable rides and creates expanded earning opportunities for Texans,” said Lyft spokeswoman Chelsea Harrison. “Riders and drivers are the real winners today. We want to thank Governor Abbott and the Legislature for their leadership on this important issue.”

In a statement, Uber apologized to Austinites for not being able to serve them over the past year. “We know that we have a lot of work to do, but we couldn’t be more excited for the road ahead. We hope you’ll come along for the ride.”

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