AUSTIN – A Texas state senator believes Austin's ridesharing vote could have a short-lived outcome. A bill died in committee last year, which would have set rules for ride-hailing companies statewide.
However, the battle over fingerprinting in several Texas cities since the 84th Texas Legislative Session could prompt lawmakers to act.
"There is nothing more important than economic liberty, Sen. Don Huffines," R-Texas Senate District 16, said. "This is a big issue."
Austin voters will decide May 7 if ride-hailing apps must use fingerprints to verify a driver's background instead of their personal information. Joe Deshotel of the Travis County Democratic Party anticipates a fight at the Capitol in 2017.
"Win or lose, we do expect them to take this to the state legislature and look for a statewide bill that would usurp local control," he said.
Deshotel was the only liberal on a panel at the Texas Public Policy Foundation Thursday that discussed government’s role in ridesharing. Huffines said fingerprints are not error proof.
"It is a false idea that you are going to make somebody safer, so they are going to act more reckless," Huffines said.
A Temple University study found significant drops in California drunken driving deaths after Uber launched. Austin District 8 Council Member Ellen Troxclair said the study’s data mirrors Austin numbers. They were on the rise, but dropped more than 20 percent once Uber and Lyft arrived.
"The companies that are going to be the most profitable are going to be the ones who do those things on their own--not because the government is telling them to," Troxclair said.
Early voting runs through May 3rd; Election day is May 7th.