House Republicans unveil new rideshare bill in response to Minneapolis ordinance

House Republicans unveil new rideshare bill in response to Minneapolis ordinance

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(KSTP) – A group of state lawmakers introduced a new bill at the Capitol on Monday in response to a rideshare pay ordinance approved last week by the Minneapolis City Council.

Republicans in the Minnesota House of Representatives say their new rideshare bill would preempt local rideshare regulations, like the one implemented in Minneapolis, to ensure access to services provided by major rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft.

The two companies threatened to leave Minneapolis if the city enacted its ordinance, which sets minimum pay for rideshare drivers at $1.40 per mile and 51 cents per minute while drivers are in city limits. After the council overrode the mayor’s veto last week, the companies said they plan to follow through on their threats and end service when the ordinance takes effect on May 1.

While Lyft plans to end service only for trips that start or end in Minneapolis, Uber plans to cut options for the entire metro area, including the airport. That’s causing concerns for many people, especially Minnesotans with disabilities who rely on those services.

“The Minneapolis City Council’s ordinance was intended to help drivers but it will end up doing just the opposite,” Rep. Elliot Engen (R-Lino Lakes) said. “They ignored repeated warnings from Uber and Lyft about discontinuing service in Minneapolis due to the ordinance, but the City Council pressed ahead anyway. On May 1st, these jobs will be gone, and the Minneapolis City Council will have set the real minimum wage for rideshare drivers to $0.”

The bill simply states that localities “may not adopt or enforce an ordinance or other local law or rule regulating transportation network companies,” but doesn’t currently include any statewide minimum wage or protections for rideshare drivers.

State lawmakers have already been working on other rideshare legislation that wouldn’t be expected to preempt local regulations. With the DFL holding a majority in both chambers, it’s unclear if the Republicans’ measure will have enough support.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has reached out to the Minneapolis City Council and Gov. Tim Walz’s office for comment on the legislation and hasn’t yet heard back. However, the governor spoke about the topic for several minutes during an unrelated press event on Monday and expressed some displeasure with how Minneapolis went about crafting and enacting the ordinance. He added that he’s “not a fan of preemption” but didn’t explicitly rule it out in this case.