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The Brief: Lawmakers Asked To Weigh In on Ride-Hailing Regulations

In a pointed instance of the saying, “actions have consequences,” representatives from Uber and Lyft appeared before a House committee on Wednesday to ask the state to address regulation of the growing ride-hailing industry.

Pro and against signs of Austin's Prop 1 ride-hailing vote posted along voting centers on University of Texas at Austin's campus on April 28, 2016.

The Big Conversation

In a pointed instance of the saying, “actions have consequences,” representatives from Uber and Lyft appeared before a House committee on Wednesday to ask the state to address regulation of the growing ride-hailing industry.

Their appearance before the legislative body was a consequence of actions at the municipal level where cities like Austin have passed local regulations of the companies. Cities have claimed the regulations are spurred by safety concerns while the companies consider them burdensome.

Both Uber and Lyft touted the safety features of their apps for lawmakers during the Wednesday hearing. As the Tribune’s Madlin Mekelburg wrote, the apps, the companies said, “allow riders to see a photo of their driver, the make and model of the car and its license plate number to ensure they are getting into the correct car. Both companies also pointed to GPS tracking software within their apps that follows a rider's movement while they're in an Uber or Lyft.”

Also on hand was the founder of a smaller ride-hailing company, getme, that has worked to fill the void created by the departure from Austin of Uber and Lyft. Mekelburg wrote that getme founder Michael Gaubert told lawmakers he opposed statewide regulation of fingerprint background checks.

“The notion that there should be a state law ban on fingerprinting is not the correct way to go on this,” said Gaubert, who was joined at the hearing by former Dallas Cowboys player Michael Irvin, whom he described as a close friend.

One lawmaker indicated that he was interested in standardizing regulations of the ride-hailing industry across the state.

"It may not get to the governor," state Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, said, "but we're going to try something." 

Disclosure: Uber and Lyft have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

Trib Must Reads

Texas Plans to Change How it Defines a "Psychologist," by Alana Rocha — A three-judge panel ruled earlier this year that the state's definition of "psychologist" violates the First Amendment. Now, officials are working to come up a new definition that they hope will still prove valuable to potential patients.

Former Mayor's "Clean Coal" Effort Struggles to Survive, by Jim Malewitz — Since leaving office in 2007, former Dallas Mayor Laura Miller has been championing "clean coal" technology, but these days plans for a West Texas gasification plant appear to be on life support.

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The Day Ahead

• The House Committee on Business and Industry meets at 9 a.m. in the Capitol extension to hear testimony on potential gaps in Texas businesses' cybersecurity policies.

• The House and Senate Select Committee on State Real Property Data Collection, Reporting and Assessment meets at 1 p.m. in the Capitol extension for a hearing to study ways the state can identify, track and maintain information on the location, condition and replacement value of its real property.


(Links below lead to outside websites; content might be behind paywall)

Texas grand jury clears officer who fatally shot black teen, The Associated Press

Texas female politicos cheer Clinton’s victory, San Antonio Express-News

U.S. Supreme Court decision on UT affirmative action case expected this month, Houston Chronicle

Wendy Davis launches Deeds Not Words to spur young women to activism, Austin American-Statesman

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones praises Hillary Clinton's groundbreaking nomination -- but don't call it an endorsement, The Dallas Morning News

Barbara Jordan's memory in tug-of-war over immigration, Houston Chronicle

State board targets nurse practitioner’s prescriptions to two children, San Antonio Express-News

Many minority boys struggle to get through school. Here’s how Dallas is helping, The Dallas Morning News

Quote to Note

I’d like to get him involved in some capacity at a high level. Because I think he’s very good. I think he’s very very good. He’s also very good on the border.”

 — Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in an interview with Bloomberg Politics on former Gov. Rick Perry

Today in TribTalk

Cruz, Reagan on parallel campaign paths, by Anya Bidwell — While both Paul Ryan and Ted Cruz call Ronald Reagan their hero, it is Cruz who has been following Reagan’s campaign blueprint.

Texas needs a new approach to poverty, by Tori Mannes — For years, Texas has lagged in helping its poorest children achieve their fullest potential, Let's try an integrated, two generation approach to improving the well-being of Texas children and their parents.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    The Texas Tribune Festival on Sept. 23-25 at the University of Texas at Austin

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