Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill Monday to create statewide regulations for ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft, voiding local rules set by cities.
Lawmakers have sparred with city officials over whether the state or local governments should be responsible for regulating the companies after an election in Austin prompted Uber and Lyft to stop operating in the city.
“In Texas we don’t believe in heavy-handed, top-down, one-sided regulatory environments that erect barriers for businesses,” Abbott said. “In Austin, Texas, we’re going to override burdensome, wrongheaded regulatory barriers that disrupt the free-enterprise system upon which Texas has been based and upon which has elevated Texas to be the No. 1 state in the entire country for doing business.”
The law goes into effect immediately. Uber and Lyft announced plans to resume operations in Austin on Monday, according to The Texas Tribune.
Austin had a city ordinance that required drivers for ride-hailing companies to get fingerprint background checks, a policy Uber and Lyft have resisted in other cities. Dallas doesn’t require drivers to have them.
Last year, Austin voters upheld the city’s rules instead of adopting alternative regulations (without fingerprints) backed by Uber and Lyft.
The legislation Abbott signed Monday requires companies to get a license from the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation to operate in the state. It doesn’t apply to taxi, limousine or other car services.
Although the law voids existing city regulations, airports and cruise ship ports would still be allowed to create regulations for rides, as long as they don’t violate provisions of the statewide law.