BG Note | Policy
Comments RE HB 100, UBER, Lyft, and the City of Austin
On Monday morning, Memorial Day, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law effective immediately House Bill 100 (HB 100). The bill establishes a uniform statewide framework for regulating transportation network companies (i.e. UBER and Lyft), overriding ordinances and provisions passed by city governments across the state including, Corpus Christi, El Paso, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio.
Almost immediately after HB 100's signing both UBER and Lyft announced their return to the Austin market. For those unplugged from city politics, it had been just over a year since both companies ceased services within the city limits following a referendum vote, known as Prop 1.
The only Texas city mentioned by Gov. Abbott at the signing was the City of Austin (meaning it's City Council). Given the apparently tenuous relationship UBER and Lyft had with the Council when they ceased operations, it will be interesting to see how both companies officials and respective consultants work to re-establish ties, if they do.
Whatever sentiments there are about the two companies and HB 100 (and those are far ranging), the legislation is now the law of the land. And as Gov. Abbott stated:
"[W]henever we have the opportunity at the Capitol, we are going to override and. burdensome, wrong-headed, regulatory barriers, that disrupt the free enterprise system upon which Texas has been based."
Broadly, Gov. Abbott's words serve as a strong indicator of a continuing trend favoring state intervention over local control. In the previous 2015 Texas Legislative Session the governor signed House Bill 40 which preempted local regulations providing the State of Texas exclusive jurisdiction to regulate oil and gas operations. That bill was particularly focused on the City of Denton which had in the prior year passed an ordinance (also by referendum vote) prohibiting fracking within the city limits.
Whether a company is or plans on operating in Texas, but particularly Austin, they should be mindful of the increasingly dynamic relationship between municipalities (mainly the state's urban metros) and the Texas legislature. We will be continuing to examine and comment from a regulatory standpoint on the re-entry of UBER and Lyft into the Austin market, as well as other passed legislation from the recent Legislative Session. And of course, look to us for comments and analysis on municipal matters year round.
Please feel free to contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
With New Rules, Will Uber, Lyft Stay in Austin? (Texas Tribune)
Curbing Local Control, Abbott Signs "Denton Fracking Bill" (Texas Tribune)
Disclaimer: The Bingham Group does not represent UBER, Lyft, or other ride-share firm.