Sharing economy bills to be heard in Texas Legislature next week

Sharing economy bills to be heard in Texas Legislature next week

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Next week is setting up to be the sharing economy week at the Texas Capitol, with bills on ridesharing and short-term rentals getting initial hearings in both the House of Representatives and Senate.

Need a refresher on what the legislative process looks like — and what a hearing means? ATA has got you covered.

Here’s how the schedule looks:

  • Tuesday, March 14, 8 am: two bills, SB 176 and SB 361, providing statewide regulation of transportation network companies (TNCs — or ridesharing) will be heard in the Senate Committee on Business & Commerce. That hearing will also include SB 451, which would create statewide regulation of short-term rentals.
  • Thursday, March 16, 8 am: the House Committee on Transportation will hear HB 100, which also provides for statewide regulation of TNCs.

Here’s a quick rundown on each of the bills. Click through the links if you want to read a bill’s entire text.

  • SB 176 by Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) provides that only the state may regulate TNCs, and a TNC would need to obtain a two-year permit from the state in order to operate in Texas. The bill sets out a list of requirements that drivers must meet before they are allowed to drive for a TNC, including passing a background check and a review of the individual’s driving record. Finally, the bill requires a TNC to establish and enforce driver drug and alcohol and nondiscrimination policies.
  • SB 361 by Sen. Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) is similar to SB 176 in that it precludes cities or other entities from regulating TNCs, placing that power exclusively with the state. The bill also requires TNCs to adopt nondiscrimination and “intoxicating substance” policies and sets out driver requirements like passing a criminal background check and not having been recently convicted of a specified list of crimes. SB 361 also states that drivers are independent contractors and not employees of a TNC provided the company and driver agree in writing.
  • SB 451 by Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) states that cities and counties cannot adopt local laws that expressly or effectively prohibit the use of a property as a short-term rental. Cities and counties would, however, be able to enforce regulations to protect the public’s health and safety, such as fire and building codes. Finally, the bill requires cities and counties to apply land use codes (zoning) to short-term rentals in the same manner as other similar property.
  • HB 100 by Rep. Chris Paddie (R-Marshall) provides that only the state may regulate TNCs and requires a permit for a TNC to operate in Texas. The bill sets out requirements that TNCs must meet, including disclosure of fares, the driver’s name, and information about the car. Like SB 361, the bill also requires TNCs to adopt nondiscrimination and “intoxicating substance” policies and sets out driver requirements like passing a criminal background check and not having been recently convicted of a specified list of crimes.

Want to testify at one of the hearings but not sure what to expect? Check out this helpful cheat sheet produced by Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin):

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