Impact on Uber, Lyft and taxi companies in Houston

HOUSTON – Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill that overrides all local regulations when it comes to fingerprint background checks for transportation networking companies such as Uber and Lyft.

Now, Lyft will return to Houston and Uber will resume operations in Galveston.

"Uber supports greater access to transportation options for consumers, which is why we're excited to share that we'll be expanding to Galveston. We look forward to making Uber available in more Texas cities in the months to come," said Travis Considine, a spokesperson for Uber, in a statement.

Cities across Texas have battled the ride-sharing companies for the past couple of years with regard to adding fingerprint background checks.  The companies argue their background checks are comprehensive enough and adding the fingerprint checks doesn't fit their business model. 

That is why Uber and Lyft left Texas cities such as Austin, which required the fingerprint background check.

 Lyft left Houston in 2014 after that city required fingerprint background checks. Uber also left Galveston because of similar local regulations.

The new law, House Bill 100, requires TNCs to run a local, state and national background check every year, but it doesn’t require drivers to obtain a fingerprint background check.

The bill also requires TNCs to obtain a permit from the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation every year and pay a $5,000 fee to operate in the state.

"Texas has longtime been the home for innovation and economic growth, but a patchwork quilt of compliance complexities are forcing businesses out of the Lone Star State," said Gov. Abbott in a statement.

Abbott said the new law helps with enterprise in the state

"My goal as governor is to remove the barriers of government, to encourage competition, and empower consumers to choose. This bill increases economic liberty while still ensuring customer safety, and I thank Rep. Chris Paddie for his work on this legislation,” said Abbott.

Houston required the companies to have their drivers to be fingerprinted, which is why Lyft left there in 2014.

In a statement, Mayor Sylvester Turner said he’s not in favor of the new bill.

"I am disappointed the Legislature chose to override Houston's successful regulatory framework which has been in place since 2014. This is another example of the legislature circumventing local control to allow corporations to profit at the expense of public safety. Houston needs a paradigm shift in the way we view transportation, and Transportation Networking Companies (TNC) will undoubtedly play a role as we create a community-wide mobility solution. I am hopeful we can work with TNCs to expand our transportation options without putting our most vulnerable Houstonians at risk. Safety should always be first and local government is always best," Turner said

Lyft is expected to return to Houston on Wednesday.