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Transportation Businesses Government United States

Texas Legislature Clears Road For Uber and Lyft To Return To Austin (austinmonitor.com) 107

schwit1 shared this article from the Austin Monitor: The Texas Legislature has cleared the road for Uber and Lyft to return to Austin on their own terms. On Wednesday, the state Senate overwhelmingly approved House Bill 100 on second and third readings, sending the statewide ride-hailing regulations to Governor Greg Abbott's desk for his signature. If Abbott signs it, as he is expected to do, the new law will preempt regulations City Council passed in December 2015 that both Uber and Lyft deemed too restrictive on transportation network companies such as themselves.
The new rules still require criminal background checks, but drop the requirement for fingerprinting. "We find it unfortunate that the 36 lobbyists deployed by the Silicon Valley giants were effective in convincing the State Legislature that there was a need to overrule the Austin voters," said a local ride-sharing company, which vowed to continue operating -- and to at least continue fingerprinting their own drivers. Houston's mayor complained the new statewide rules handed down are "another example of the legislature circumventing local control to allow corporations to profit at the expense of public safety."
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Texas Legislature Clears Road For Uber and Lyft To Return To Austin

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Republicans voting in favor of the interests of big corporations. How shocking...

  • taxi robbery (Score:3, Insightful)

    by KiloByte ( 825081 ) on Sunday May 21, 2017 @01:59PM (#54459775)

    "another example of the legislature circumventing local control to allow corporations to profit at the expense of public safety."

    As opposed to taxi mafia bribing the legislature to profit at the expense of the public?

    Uber might have its flaws, but they're strictly better than taxi corporations (for everyone who's not a member of the taxi mafia, doesn't profit from selling medallions/etc, and doesn't get bribes^Wcampaign donation from said mafia).

    • As opposed to taxi mafia bribing the legislature to profit at the expense of the public?

      Yes. The Austin law was stupid and anti-competitive. But they have a right to be stupid, and if the citizens of Austin don't like it they can vote the incumbents out. If we give up local control just because a particular law is stupid, then we also give up local control on every other issue.

      The Texas legislature should keep out of local affairs, just as the Feds should keep out of state affairs.

      Disclaimer: I don't live in Texas, but I have been to Austin many times. I would MUCH rather live under the r

      • I see this as an attempt from the Texas state legislature to poke the Austin 'weirdos' (from their perspective) in the eye. "Haha nice try guys!"
        • Or perhaps the Austin government is more easily purchased by the taxi mafia than the state government.

          Either way, don't be hypocritical on this. I guarantee that you and ShanghaiBill will be complaining in the exact opposite direction about a larger government interfering with smaller ones whenever Congress begins to push its new bill overriding state/county level internet privacy laws.

      • by Koby77 ( 992785 )

        Yes. The Austin law was stupid and anti-competitive. But they have a right to be stupid, and if the citizens of Austin don't like it they can vote the incumbents out. If we give up local control just because a particular law is stupid, then we also give up local control on every other issue.

        The Texas legislature should keep out of local affairs, just as the Feds should keep out of state affairs.

        No, the state decides what sort of local control to give. The constitution spells out state rights, but state laws and constitutions do not necessarily grant cities the right to decide on all issues, such as mass transit or the internet.

        States can let city control on issues such as policing, garbage collection, property zoning, and a whole bunch of other things. But the state doesn't need to give up all control, and when cities become bureaucratic nightmares for all of its other citizens, then the state i

        • No, the state decides what sort of local control to give.

          We are not discussing whether they DO, we are discussing whether they SHOULD.

          Of course they have the authority to usurp local control. That doesn't mean it is the right thing to do. It is also very hypocritical of the Texas Republican party to do this, since they hold themselves up as champions of decentralization.

      • The Austin law was stupid and anti-competitive. But they have a right to be stupid,

        Sure, but they don't have a right to be anti-competitive. In fact, that is illegal.

        I don't live in Texas, but I have been to Austin many times. I would MUCH rather live under the rule of the Austin city council than the Texas legislature, despite the stupidity of this particular law.

        What's interesting about that is that Austin PD is broadly considered to be not just one of the worst police forces in Texas, but one of the worst in the USA; although things have slacked off slightly of late, it's uncommon for APD to not be in the news for some instance of police brutality, wrongful arrest, or some combination of the two.

        My experience in Texas was that the cops are not the big problem, anyway. It's just norm

      • But where exactly is the line between state and local affairs?

        Access to, and usage of, public roads is generally regulated at the state level; even where said roads are constructed or paid for at the city level. I don't goto a city or county agency to get my driver's license or to register my car, for example. The DMV is a state agency and, so far as I'm aware, that is the case in all 50 states. Cities and counties get to set speed limits and other traffic control rules; but only within limits. And I've

    • Re:taxi robbery (Score:5, Informative)

      by SumDog ( 466607 ) on Sunday May 21, 2017 @03:11PM (#54460011) Homepage Journal

      > Uber might have its flaws

      Have you been reading Slashdot? Every week there's a story about Uber. We know their work environment is over-competitive and toxic. They have a "Hell" map that uses fake accounts to show all rival ride-share driver locations (including Lyft and taxi companies with their own apps), several high ranking Uber staff have left this year, two women have written posts about sexual harassment, information about Greyball shows how they used tech to get around fines from local laws, Google is suing them for stealing self-driving tech ...

      Uber is terrible, their wages for drivers drop every year, they have a toxic business structure and yet no one seems to give a shit and still uses them with the "Uber might have its flaws" bullshit argument.

      Fuck Uber

      • by Koby77 ( 992785 )

        Have you been reading Slashdot? Every week there's a story about Uber. We know their work environment is over-competitive and toxic.

        Yet the customers seem to love it a lot better than the regular taxi service. It turns out that the corporate culture 1000 miles away doesn't affect the guy getting better service at a lower price. If you have a problem with the corporate culture, then fine, go to their corporate headquarters and complain. But don't interfere with the customer getting the product that they want.

        • And slaveowners loved owning slaves...

        • by Cederic ( 9623 )

          You think we should let a piece of shit company exploit its workers and break multiple international laws so that the customer can get the product that they want?

          Fuck that, and fuck you for even suggesting it.

        • Really? You sure it's not because they are held hostage by their cell phone....
      • Uber is terrible, their wages for drivers drop every year, they have a toxic business structure and yet no one seems to give a shit and still uses them with the "Uber might have its flaws" bullshit argument.

        Wages for taxi drivers are also net crap, I know two women who were raped by the same group of taxi drivers who had been reported repeatedly to both police and the taxi company... The problem with saying "Uber is bad" is that sure, they're bad, but so are taxi companies. If you're in some other country which is more sane than the USA and reading this, it might not make sense. You might even have trouble believing it. But the truth is that the entrenched taxi companies are generally fuckheads who break the l

        • Yo ass-hole, Uber is not competing. That's the fucking point. Uber claims they are not a taxi service. Uber claims they don't have employees, the drivers are contractors. When Uber competes on a level playing field, meaning they own up to being a taxi service with employees, THEN, we'll see if Uber provides a better service. Until then, fuck off!
          • Yo ass-hole, Uber is not competing.

            Whose opinion are you renting? Of course they are.

            When Uber competes on a level playing field,

            Well, at least now I can see to where you've moved the goalposts, kiddo.

    • What's a "taxi mafia"? Is that like... a mix of Taxi Driver with The Godfather?

      Uber might have its "flaws" -- insignificant crimes, disrespect for the law and other illegal activity -- but at least it's not a mafi-- wait.

      Waiiiit.

      Illegal activity... That's what the mafia does! But the mafia does it in an organized fashion... Like a corporation. But they do it while operating above the law.

      And Uber doesn't operate above the law. It just changes the law. Like in a South America banana republic. The Uber States

      • The "taxi mafia" are the people that pay off the local politicians for access to the local market and medallions. They exist. That is how the taxi industry operates in the US. Sorry you are so clueless about life.
    • LMOL yeah taxi mafia. As opposed to Uber circumventing law enforcement...give it up troll.
  • by mrmaster ( 535266 ) on Sunday May 21, 2017 @02:02PM (#54459781) Homepage
    It's quite frustrating to read, multiple times, how state government continues to override local municipalities. Another instance is in regards to city fracking ordinances. It's also worrisome that Texas has done nothing to reduce the bribes...sorry..I meant to say campaign contributions and the conflicts of interests that exist in the state senate. God, I just sent can't get enough of small government!
    • by Koby77 ( 992785 ) on Sunday May 21, 2017 @02:30PM (#54459869)
      With state law versus the federal government, the constitution enumerates certain states rights. That is, they defined the things for which the federal government controls, and left other issues to be decided for the states themselves. Not necessarily so with city rights. It is not the place of cities to carve out their own little fiefdoms for which large-scale projects such as the internet, energy projects, or mass transit, are things to which everyone else must be subservient. Cities are there to provide local services, such as police, fire, garbage collection, and perhaps some road repairs. When individual cities start stomping on the rights of state citizens, then it is well within the scope of the state to step in and restore those rights.
      • Sorry, Obviously the sarcasm in my post went over your head like a supersonic jet. Yes, states rights supersede cities and towns. However, my point was specifically in relation to the "small government" war cry that is shoved down our throats like a "please insert your own mad libs". The fact of the matter is I am sick of hearing about small government and "freedoms" when in reality the only freedom here is for Uber --by way of San Francisco--is to do a money grab by way of influencing whoeever serves t
        • by Koby77 ( 992785 )
          Houston's regulations are neither "small government" nor the proper venue by which one should attempt to regulate internet companies.
          • They're not trying to regulate Uber's operations everywhere, though, just in Austin. Do you think they should not be able to define what a private car or taxi service is within the city limits and what requirements companies must meet in order to operate one there? Just because it's a pain for Uber to have to deal with local regulations doesn't mean that that's not the approprate place for those to occur.

            If the laws are unjustly stifling, it's a lot easier to change a local law than a statewide one.

            • by SvnLyrBrto ( 62138 ) on Monday May 22, 2017 @01:51AM (#54461451)

              They weren't just trying to *regulate* Uber and Lyft though. The ordinance in question specifically targeted them and was crafted so as to be so onerous as to drive them out of the market. Tellingly, it didn't include the legacy taxi companies in the regulations; only "transportation network companies".

              And it wasn't just background checks. There was a requirement to open up local offices, restrictions on Uber and Lyft picking up passengers at "special events", restrictions on automated surge pricing, a requirement to hold "community outreach events" whatever that was supposed to mean, a money grab, and (perhaps worst of all from a tech company's POV) a demand that Uber and Lyft hand over access to their internal rider and trip data to the city.

              And let's not forget: This was not a case of Uber and Left moving into an existing regulatory structure and demanding that the rules be changed because they were special or whatnot. Both companies had already been operating in Austin for some time. The city then imposed entire new regulations after the fact to target and drive away Uber and Lyft. That's corruption and regulatory capture (Remember, the ordinance targeted TNCs only, and excluded the legacy taxi corporations.) at it's worst. Perhaps this state law was not the best way to go about it; but Austin's city politicians really did need to be slapped down hard on this one.

      • by DRJlaw ( 946416 )

        . It is not the place of cities to carve out their own little fiefdoms for which large-scale projects such as the internet, energy projects, or mass transit, are things to which everyone else must be subservient. Cities are there to provide local services, such as police, fire, garbage collection, and perhaps some road repairs. When individual cities start stomping on the rights of state citizens, then it is well within the scope of the state to step in and restore those rights.

        Ah yes.... the right level of

      • by thrich81 ( 1357561 ) on Sunday May 21, 2017 @05:53PM (#54460481)

        It wasn't the faceless "City of Austin" which passed the ride sharing rules, it was Austin's voting citizens who passed the rules in a hard fought referendum where the ride sharing companies outspent their opponents by several times. So that's it -- the people WHO LIVE THERE wanted those rules. The State of Texas does have the legal right to overrule the expressed desire of the citizens of Austin, but why, just for spite (or bribes)? For the people that don't like the Austin laws and ways of doing business there are plenty of other places in Texas to move to; not any other big cities (except Fort Worth) as they all have similar politics now, but plenty of smaller cities with "real Texas values", but for various reasons those smaller places aren't seen as such desirable places to live. If the cities are there to "to provide local services, such as police, fire, garbage collection, and perhaps some road repairs", then what in heck is the State there for? The feds provide national defense and the Interstate highway system, the cities provide local services, the local school districts provide for the public schools. What is really left for the states?, mostly just corruption and overrepresentation of the rural areas , at least here in Texas.

        • I live in Charlotte, we have a similar problem with the state legislature in NC. While populous, Austin and Charlotte are very different from the majority of the landmass in the state and want to run themselves differently, while the state legislature sees it as a threat to their authority and an erosion to the nearby areas with their policies. Thus, they try their best hitting the nail down into the wood, no matter how angry it makes the citizens of those cities. There's a reason a lot of states have ho

        • It's also worth mentioning that the "people WHO LIVE (T)HERE)" were largely duped into voting for this bullshit because the wording on the ballot was written to be intentionally extremely confusing.
    • by Kohath ( 38547 )

      Arresting people and/or levying fines against people for giving each other car rides is not "small government".

  • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Sunday May 21, 2017 @02:19PM (#54459833) Journal

    State legislators continue to show that their concern for local government doesn't extend downwards from their own level.

    The Federal level is too high, the city level is too low. The state level is just right: the "Goldilocks" level.

    • to drown in a bathtub comes to mind. My experience is that nobody's really opposed to the government telling people what to do; just so long as they already wanted to do it.

      Me? I see strong governments as inevitable; so instead of hunkering down and trying to make it go away I'm with Bernie et al and want to make it do good. It's like fire or, hell, nuclear power. Once it's out there you can't put the cat back in the bag. Better to just take control of it.
      • Once it's out there you can't put the cat back in the bag. Better to just take control of it.

        Yes, but we can't do that without changing its shape. I, for one, do not advocate for less government. I advocate for government which is more regionalized, and also for regions which make some kind of sense. Many of the state boundaries are also aligned with geographical boundaries, and make plenty of sense. But many other boundaries were rearranged for political reasons, and that's a lot of bollocks.

        There are only two legitimate political reasons to rearrange a boundary, if you don't count the creation of

        • Historically, geographic boundaries have problems. On a river, in the absence of strong central governments, the river people on both sides tend to be much alike, and interact with each other. Then the central governments say "Here's a river, we'll use it for a boundary" and the river people get split up. Ideally, jurisdictions should become more homogenous as they divide up from larger to smaller.

        • by mega corps. That's what "Small enough to drown in a bathtub" means. It's why it took our Federal Government stepping in to make the Civil Rights movement happen.
      • I don't wish death to people but i do drive satisfaction reading certain obituaries. All socialists, all fascists fall into the category of giving me that pleasure.

  • Houston's mayor complained the new statewide rules handed down are "another example of the legislature circumventing local control to allow corporations to profit at the expense of public safety."

    The legislature didn't circumvent anything. They wielded the constitutional authority they have to regulate you as a subordinate political entity. If you want the sort of autonomy the states have against the federal government, then put forth a draft proposal for a state constitution that provides it.

  • That's totally bananas!

    Bananas!

  • I'm pro free market, and pro-uber, but I'm opposed to bigger governments having the authority to override local governments.

  • Oh. I see. They only love it when the Federal Government is instituting something they disagree with. Then it's all "States' rights!" and "Founding fathers!" But when it comes to conservatives imposing their will, they don't give a shit about the will of local political majorities.

    How convenient for them.

    • /. cut off (shortened) my title without any indication while writing it. It was:

      But. But. But I thought conservatives LOVE/cherish local control.

      I wish one could edit posts as can be done in other comment systems.

    • by lgw ( 121541 )

      When it comes to the federal government, states should have more power. When it comes to local government, states should have more power. This seems perfectly straightforward, consistent, and exactly what any reasonable person would expect a state government to believe. Why are you confused?

      • by LazLong ( 757 )

        Why? Every time a Federal law is passed that conservatives don't like they trot out the "States' Rights" flag and wave it around using the defintion of States' Rights to be the idea that local people are better able to govern themselves than some remote beast of a government in D.C. The same principle should hold true at the state level vs. counties and municipalities. Austin is a drop of Liberal society in a sea of rednecks and is surely better able to govern itself than a bunch of hicks representing other

        • by lgw ( 121541 )

          Maybe there's a clue in the first word of "States' Rights".

          Austin is a drop of Liberal society in a sea of rednecks and is surely better able to govern itself than a bunch of hicks representing other areas.

          Ah, a bigot.

  • As anybody with even a slight familiarity with Uber and Lyft knows, this argument about criminal checks vs fingerprinting is really about illegals trying to earn a living.

    Illegal immigrants and people on student and tourist visas with no U.S. work permit go to Uber, undergo a "criminal check"and drive for a living. A criminal check finds nothing because the person has no record at all. A fingerprint check to NCIS would show the person doesn't match the ID or is a visa-overstayer.

    None of these companies

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