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Watch a hearing on bills aimed at drawing Uber and Lyft back to Austin

A Senate committee is scheduled to take up three bills Tuesday aimed at overriding local regulation of ride-hailing companies that prompted Uber and Lyft to leave Austin and other Texas cities last year.

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The Senate Business & Commerce Committee is scheduled to take up three bills Tuesday aimed at overriding local regulation of ride-hailing companies that prompted Uber and Lyft to leave Austin and other Texas cities last year.

Currently, ride-hailing companies face few statewide regulations beyond a requirement to maintain active auto insurance. Bills from Republican state Sens. Donald Huffines of Dallas, Charles Schwertner of Georgetown and Robert Nichols of Jacksonville would preempt most local regulation of ride-hailing companies, including any required fingerprinting of drivers.

Uber and Lyft left Austin in May after the city's voters rejected a ballot proposition pushed by the companies to undo city rules requiring their drivers to submit to the same fingerprint background checks required of drivers of traditional taxi companies. The companies’ departure attracted several start-up ride-hailing apps to the city, all of which require their drivers to be fingerprinted.

Before its departure from Austin, Uber and Lyft had also left Galveston, Midland and Corpus Christi last year over local regulations. Midland eventually changed its security check regulations to draw the companies back.

While Uber has left several Texas cities over fingerprint requirements, the company continues to operate in Houston, the state's biggest city, even though city regulations there still require drivers to be fingerprinted.

The hearing is scheduled to start at 8 a.m., central time. A livestream will post to this page Tuesday when the committee hearing begins.

 

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      • Ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft left Austin after a bruising fight over city regulation, but the wheels are turning to bring the companies back.   

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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