Thursday, May 11, 2017

#TXLEGE: Uninspiring Uber bill slogs through Senate....

"The Lord has made all for Himself,
Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom."
Proverbs 16:4

[Note: The hearing can be viewed here.  The section on HB 100 begins just after the one hour mark.  Our testimony is at the 1:28 mark]

The saga of the Uber bill continued into the Senate State affairs committee this morning, where Sen. Schwertner introduced yet another committee substitute...which means conference committee.  To be honest, this bill becomes less appealing with each new iteration.  But, nevertheless, it remains superior to the status quo and we continue to support getting this bill to the Governor.

A good metaphor for the trajectory of this bill is that TPPF switched their testimony from "for" the bill to "on."  TPPF outlined issues with the licensing and fee aspects of the bill that represent a potential barrier to entry for new competitors.  We echo TPPF's concerns and were very close to changing our own testimony...

...when the City of Austin invented yet another objection out of thin air.  Now, they claim to be worried that the bill will threaten "data privacy."  Please.  This is nothing more than an attempt to shift the goalposts.  Likewise, the taxpayer funded lobbyists at the Texas Municipal league said something about "airports."  And therein lies the rub: we need to get this issue out of the hands of disingenuous local officials and their taxpayer funded lobbyists.  We can address the flaws in a future session.

One woman objected to the bill based on the experience of a friend who had been raped by an illegal alien Uber driver in Boston; we addressed her concerns in our testimony.

As stated above, we testified that we shared TPPF's concerns with the bill.  There's a reason why Senator Huffines total dereg. bill was the only one on which we'd testified in favor back in March.  This bill still includes too many regulations, and too many mandates, but nevertheless the state legislation continues to have fewer regulations and mandates than the various local ordinances.  Seeing the City of Austin once again shift their goalposts solidified our position.  But understand that, as technology continues to evolve, we are going to have to revisit this issue in future sessions.

As to the woman who was worried about TNC drivers who have been previously deported: We pointed out that, from the Texas Senate's perspective, SB 4 renders the issue moot.

Bottom Line: This bill sucks. But the status quo sucks even more. Just get this bill to the Governor.


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