MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS . ..

MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS . ..

Easy Rider
Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill into law Monday morning that overrides local rules on background checks that have caused ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft to leave town in several Texas cities, including Austin. “What today really is is a celebration of freedom and free enterprise,” Abbott said during the signing ceremony, according to the Texas Tribune. “This is freedom for every Texan—especially those who live in the Austin area—to be able to choose the provider of their choice as it concerns transportation.” The companies barely waited for the ink to dry before officially restarting their operations in Austin, the city that they bailed on last year after residents voted against an Uber and Lyft-supported ballot measure that would have repealed stricter fingerprinting regulations for ride-hailing drivers. According to the Austin American-Statesman, Abbott signed the law shortly after ten in the morning. The Lyft app went live in Austin at about 10:40, and Uber reactivated at around noon.

Feeling The Heat
The CEOs of fourteen of the biggest companies in the world sent a letter to Governor Greg Abbott on Saturday, warning him not to sign any discriminatory laws, according to the Dallas Morning News. The signees include some famous names, like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Apple’s Tim Cook, and the leaders of Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Dell, IBM, Hewlett Packard, and CISCO. “As large employers in the state, we are gravely concerned that any such legislation would deeply tarnish Texas’s reputation as open and friendly to businesses and families,” the CEOs wrote in the letter. “Our ability to attract, recruit and retain top talent, encourage new business relocations, expansions and investment, and maintain our economic competitiveness would all be negatively affected. Discrimination is wrong and it has no place in Texas or anywhere in our country.” The letter didn’t call out a specific piece of legislation, but it’s likely a response to the Texas House passing restrictions on which bathrooms transgender kids can use in public schools.

Foster Careless
The inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released an audit of Texas’s broken foster care system on Tuesday, and the findings are not particularly surprising. The eighteen-page report identified bureaucratic lapses that could potentially put children in danger, according to the Associated Press. The feds reviewed 1oo child welfare cases, finding 46 that did not comply with federal requirements, including investigators not discussing findings with supervisors in a timely fashion. According to the report, those failures “undermines the State agency’s internal controls for providing oversight of the investigation and could place foster care children at risk.” The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services took issue with the title of the report, which claims Texas didn’t always investigate allegations of abuse and neglect in accordance with state and federal rules. DFPS Commissioner Hank Whitman told the AP that the title is “inflammatory” and sensationalized, and pushed back at the report’s findings. “There is no suggestion that there were any actual problems in the investigations caused by delay in obtaining supervisory approval,” Whitman said.