Image ©John Branch for the Rivard Report, 2016.

On Thursday, Dec. 8, City Council will vote on proposed changes intended to keep rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft in town by incentivizing drivers to take the optional 10-print fingerprint background check. Another goal of the proposed incentives is to “level the playing field” for new and old transportation and tech companies.

The City has had a tumultuous relationship with rideshare since it entered the market in 2014, even leading rideshare companies to suspend operations in March 2015.

City Council members are divided on the issue. Some Council members as well as representatives from traditional transportation companies are opposed to allowing drivers to transport passengers without a fingerprint background check, citing public safety.

Last week, hundreds of people showed up to a pro-rideshare Tech Bloc rally at Burleson Yard Thursday night, where more than 400 signed support letters were collected.

Many credit rideshare with reducing drunk driving arrests in the city this past year, highlighting that mobile apps like Lyft and Uber make it simple and affordable to hitch a ride home after drinking.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and San Antonio Police Department reports, there has been a decline in arrests related to drunk driving since rideshare has been operating this past year. There were 71 drunk driving fatalities in Bexar County in 2015, but no rideshare deaths.

Citizens can sign up to speak before the City Council meeting on Dec. 8 at 9 a.m. at the Municipal Plaza Building.

Cartoonist John Branch has commented on San Antonio and Texas politics for decades; his work is syndicated nationally by King Features.