The Texas House of Representatives has passed a bill bringing the regulation of ride-hailing companies like Uber under state jurisdiction.
While the bill requires such companies to pay annual $5,000 fees to the state, it could nullify municipal regulations in Austin and Houston requiring them to perform fingerprint-based background checks on drivers. The bill, introduced by Republican Chris Paddie, establishes a requirement for yearly background checks, but does not require them to be based on fingerprints.
Proponents of fingerprint-based background checks tend to argue that they are an important safety measure for passengers, while ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft argue that their own background check measures are adequate, and that fingerprint-based checks would be unnecessarily arduous for drivers. As the Houston Chronicle reports, Houston Regulatory Affairs Department Deputy Assistant Director Lara Cottingham has asserted that in the months leading up to last year’s Super Bowl, which the city hosted, half of the drivers undergoing fingerprint-based background checks “had hits on their background.”
For its part, Austin saw Uber and Lyft follow through on their threats to halt operations in the city after it went ahead with the requirement of fingerprint-based background checks last year. Their services were quickly replaced by smaller ride-hailing companies willing to comply with the regulations.
April 21, 2017 – by Alex Perala