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Minnesota House GOP to pitch rideshare bill, as Uber and Lyft exodus from Minneapolis looms

Minnesota GOP rideshare bill aims to undo Minneapolis ordinance
Minnesota GOP rideshare bill aims to undo Minneapolis ordinance 02:11

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota House Republicans plan to introduce a bill Monday to help keep Uber and Lyft operating in the Twin Cities. The proposal comes after both companies threatened to pull their services from the metro on May 1 following the Minneapolis City Council's decision to pass an ordinance raising the minimum wage for rideshare drivers.

Rep. Elliott Engen of White Bear Lake is introducing a bill that would essentially override Minneapolis' ordinance and block any city or municipality from setting their own rules for rideshare driver pay.

The text reads that a "political subdivision of the state may not adopt or enforce an ordinance or other local law regulating transportation network companies." The bill is composed of four simple lines.

But Democrats in the majority are considering their own rideshare bill, setting minimum pay standards statewide. It comes after Gov. Tim Walz vetoed a measure last year to increase driver wages.

The proposals, authored by DFL Sen. Omar Fateh and DFL Rep. Hodan Hassan, set pay at $1.39 per mile and 49 cents per minute, which is slightly lower than the $1.40 per mile and 51-cent-per-minute ordinance passed in Minneapolis.

But it's still much more than what a state report commissioned by Walz determined pay rates should be in the Twin Cities to align with minimum wage, after paying for vehicle expenses and payroll taxes.

The Department of Labor and Industry said that's 89 cents per mile and 48.7 cents per minute in the Twin Cities metro.

Fateh's proposal cleared the Senate Labor Committee last week. It also sets a "deactivation policy" for drivers, so they can appeal if rideshare companies kick them off the platform.

Residents speak out: "One of the more idiotic things"

With the clock ticking and Minnesota lawmakers scrambling to keep Uber and Lyft operating in Minneapolis, residents have plenty to say about the companies' announced plans to leave town in about six weeks. 

"I would like to see somebody say what's next," Minneapolis resident Kent Schulze said.  "I think it's one of the more idiotic things that city council has dealt with."

The debate over driver wages and loss of dominating rideshare services Uber and Lyft in Minneapolis is a hot-button issue no matter who you ask.

"I know they've done this in other markets to where they say they don't want to pay people a minimum wage or living wage, and I think that's kind of crazy," Dan Lindquist said. "If you can't pay someone a minimum wage you probably shouldn't be in Minneapolis anyway."

House Republicans say they have heard the calls to take action. 

"This would actually effectively make every single rideshare driver have a $0 minimum wage, because there would not be a job there to begin with," Engen said. "We have to act now, because May 1 is coming up here very, very quickly."

Gov. Tim Wals says he typically doesn't support overriding local rules, but in this case it might make sense.

"This is a tough issue. I think you can hold several things at the same time. We certainly want to see folks be paid a fair wage for their work we also want to make sure that wage structure allows for the business to go forward," Walz said. "I'll bring all the folks together to get this fixed. But, candidly, I'm not super hopeful because of the decision made in Minneapolis."

The first 2024 committee deadline is coming up on Friday, March 22.

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