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City Council members author rideshare protections bill after previous effort vetoed

Reviving an effort for higher pay for rideshare drivers
Reviving an effort for higher pay for rideshare drivers 03:21

MINNEAPOLIS — Some Minneapolis City Council members said Thursday they'd introduce new legislation aiming to boost rideshare driver pay and protections, after Mayor Jacob Frey vetoed a similar measure last month.  

Council Member Robin Wonsley said that there would be two ordinances: one that guarantees a minimum wage for drivers and another that ensures other workers' rights not related to compensation like safety and fare transparency for passengers using the service. 

"Drivers and riders still urgently need these protections and council has a responsibility to pass legislation," she said during Thursday's council meeting. "We have heard broad support from the council and the mayor for these goals, and have charted out a new legislative pathway based on this public support." 

The scope of the proposals is not yet known. Such details are not required for this first step of the legislative process, which is called a notice of intent. It's just that: a notice that legislation will be coming before the body.  

The previous version of the plan set pay rates of at least $1.40 per mile and $0.51 per minute or $5, whichever is greater. It only applied to rides within the city limits and also set new rules on how companies can discipline or deactivate drivers on the platform.  

Uber and Lyft threatened to reduce or shut down their services in the city if the ordinance took effect, prompting a veto from Mayor Jacob Frey. Frey said Uber agreed to a $15.19 minimum wage — which aligns with the city's pay minimum for employers — after he rejected it. 

"This legislation will formalize and codify that verbal commitment and also put it in place over any other transportation network companies that operate in Minneapolis," Wonsley said of the forthcoming new proposal. 

An Uber spokesperson said the company supports a "statewide solution" that looks at a minimum earnings floor, "rather than a patchwork of solutions that change every time a driver moves a few miles." 

Lyft, likewise, said in a statement it would support drivers earning a minimum of $15 per hour, "but the rates previously proposed by the council and vetoed by the mayor go drastically far beyond that" and in turn would have nearly doubled the price of rides. 

Gov. Tim Walz vetoed a similar measure in the state legislature this year and assembled a task force to find common ground for rideshare driver protections. 

But the future of the new city proposals is unclear. Ordinances have to be "substantively different" than those that failed. Council members questioned whether this renewed effort would qualify as such, though there was no formal vote Thursday. 

The council will make that determination in future meetings. 

"You can't just bring the same thing up over and over again through the process so it has to be substantially different," said Council Member Lisa Goodman, who represents Ward 7. 

In a notice to his constituents, Council Member Jason Chavez, a co-author of the ordinance, said the wages requirements ordinance "will be identical" to the language in the measure that Frey vetoed. Wonsley suggested Thursday it would codify the agreement that mayor made with Uber. 

She said she hopes that one will pass the City Council by mid-October.

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