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Key Minnesota lawmaker says stakeholders are "very close" to agreement on rideshare rules for driver pay

Lawmakers say they’re close to Minnesota rideshare solution
Lawmakers say they’re close to Minnesota rideshare solution 01:51

ST. PAUL, Minn. — A key lawmaker backing legislation mandating new regulations for rideshare operations in Minnesota said Tuesday that stakeholders are "very close" to an agreement on wages for drivers — a sticking point in negotiations. 

Sen. Omar Fateh, DFL-Minneapolis, made the comment during the Senate Commerce Committee meeting where lawmakers greenlit some small changes to the bill expanding insurance for drivers who are injured or lose their life on their way to pick up or while driving passengers to their destination. 

Coverage would not exceed $1 million and would include medical expenses, lost compensation, disability benefits and survivor benefits at no cost to the driver. It was one of the items Gov. Tim Walz's work group consisting of drivers, state and local elected officials, and the rideshare companies agreed to last year.

"Other places [in the bill], we're still negotiating. We're very, very close in terms of the jurisdiction around arbitration and the wages and all that," Fateh told the panel Tuesday after it agreed to insurance provisions.

Lobbyists for Uber and Lyft testified that they support the insurance requirements, as was the agreement during the governor's work group, but warned that it represents just one part of a larger bill that is still sparking concerns. Right now, Fateh's legislation has pay rates that are similar to minimum per-minute and per-mile wages set by the ordinance in Minneapolis, where Uber and Lyft threaten they will exit if the local law stands.

"We are working diligently to get to a statewide solution that would allow these companies to operate in the state. If this passed without further amendment, that would not be the case," said Joel Carlson, who is representing Uber.

Republicans tried but failed again to amend the bill to undo Minneapolis' decision with pre-emption language. The city council recently bought state lawmakers more time to come up with a statewide solution by delaying implementation until July 1

The companies have said they will continue to operate until that date. The legislature is set to adjourn on May 20. 

"If this is not addressed and fixed by the end of this legislative session, the people of Minnesota will have been failed dramatically," said Sen. Zach Duckworth, R-Lakeville.

But Democrats are optimistic they can find a compromise. Fateh said Tuesday that stakeholders—drivers, companies and legislative leaders—have been working several times per week to get closer to a deal. Those meetings are happening behind closed doors. 

Earlier this month, House Majority Leader Jamie Long, a Democrat from Minneapolis said he was "confident" that there could be a deal reached by the end of session. He has rejected the idea that lawmakers would preempt the city; instead, he said, they are working alongside Minneapolis. 

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