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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 ca…

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.

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The Day Ahead

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

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

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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.”

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Today in TribTalk

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Trib Events for the Calendar

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

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