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Walz vetoes rideshare driver pay bill, creates committee to study alternatives

Both Uber and Lyft actively campaigned for Gov. Tim Walz to veto the bill, claiming high costs could make it difficult or impossible to continue service.
Credit: AP
FILE - A ride share car displays Lyft and Uber stickers on its front windshield. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

ST PAUL, Minn. — In a rare move, Democratic Gov. Tim Walz vetoed a bill passed by the DFL-controlled Minnesota legislature that would have set minimum pay and offered protections to rideshare drivers.

Both Uber and Lyft had actively urged Walz to veto the bill, claiming the high costs could instead force them to change their services and put drivers out of work.

Alongside the veto, Walz issued an executive order to create a working group that will study driver pay and protections, with a goal of recommending alternative rideshare legislation next year.

“Rideshare drivers deserve fair wages and safe working conditions. I am committed to finding solutions that balance the interests of all parties, including drivers and riders,” Gov. Walz said in a statement. “This is not the right bill to achieve these goals. I have spent my career fighting for workers, and I will continue to work with drivers, riders, and rideshare companies to address the concerns that this bill sought to address.”

The bill would have set minimum compensation at $1.45 per mile and $0.34 per minute in the Twin Cities metro area and at least $1.25 per mile for trips that start outside the metro. There was also a minimum fee of $5.00 for any transportation of a rider by a driver. The bill would have also given stronger protections to drivers against being fired or "deactivated."

The measure was supported by the Minnesota Uber/Lyft Drivers Association (MULDA), made up of rideshare drivers who have lobbied lawmakers to support better working conditions for the past year.

“Fair labor standards for rideshare drivers is a matter of basic worker rights," DFL State Sen. Omar Fateh, the bill's sponsor, said in a statement prior to the bill's passage during the session. "Minnesotans trust these drivers to safely drive them and their loved ones every day. There’s no reason why they shouldn’t have the same rights and protections as other workers."

Just hours before the governor's office announced the veto, Uber sent a statement to the media and an email to customers saying that if the bill was signed into law, the company would have been forced to end service in greater Minnesota and limit service in the Twin Cities metro to "premium products to match the premium prices required by the bill."

“While it was always our goal to pass comprehensive legislation this session that would raise rates for drivers while providing them the flexibility and benefits they tell us they want, that is not the bill we ended up with," an Uber spokesperson said in a statement following the veto. "We appreciate the opportunity to work together to get this right and hope the legislature quickly passes a compromise in February.”

According to the governor's office, the working group that will study a new version of the rideshare legislation will include legislators, drivers, rideshare company representatives, members of the disability community, labor, and riders. The Department of Labor and Industry will also commission a study on working conditions of rideshare drivers in Minnesota and how potential changes may impact access and cost for riders.

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