Republicans introduce bill to save Uber and Lyft after Minneapolis vote

Lyft says it plans to stop operating in Minneapolis come May 1 while Uber says it will leave the entire metro area.

Lyft says it plans to stop operating in Minneapolis come May 1 while Uber says it will leave the entire metro area. (Adobe Stock)

Minnesota Republicans have introduced a bill that would prohibit local governments from regulating rideshare companies after Uber and Lyft said they plan to leave portions of the metro area May 1.

That’s the day a new ordinance passed by the Minneapolis City Council setting minimum compensation standards for rideshare drivers is set to take effect.

Previously vetoed by Mayor Jacob Frey, the ordinance became official on Thursday when the Democratic council voted to overturn the mayor’s veto.

Prior to the authorization of the ordinance, both Uber and Lyft had warned city leaders that passing the ordinance would force the companies to discontinue their services within Minneapolis.

Now, Lyft says it plans to stop operating in Minneapolis come May 1 while Uber says it will leave the entire metro area, including the airport.

“We are disappointed the Council chose to ignore the data and kick Uber out of the Twin Cities, putting 10,000 people out of work and leaving many stranded,” Uber said in a statement after the vote. “But we know that by working together with all stakeholders — drivers, riders and state leaders — we can achieve comprehensive statewide legislation that guarantees drivers a fair minimum wage, protects their independence and keeps rideshare affordable.”

Republican legislators introduced a bill Monday that would prohibit local governments from adopting or enforcing ordinances “regulating transportation network companies.”

“The Minneapolis City Council’s ordinance was intended to help drivers but it will end up doing just the opposite. 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 1, these jobs will be gone, and the Minneapolis City Council will have set the real minimum wage for rideshare drivers to $0,” said Rep. Elliott Engen, R-White Bear Township, who’s carrying the bill in the House.

Gov. Tim Walz said during a press conference Monday that he’s generally “not a fan” of preemption, but the decision “by those nine or 10 City Council members … has impacted the entire state and a much broader area.”

The DFL governor said a recent study on the topic released by the Department of Labor and Industry provides a “roadmap” for paying drivers a fair wage while preserving access to rideshare services.

“I don’t think it’s a plan to think somebody might step in. That’s not really a plan. That’s hopefulness,” said Walz, referring to a possible replacement for Uber and Lyft.

Last year, Gov. Walz used his veto pen for the first time when he rejected a bill that would have set statewide pay standards for drivers. One of the lead authors of that bill was Sen. Omar Fateh, DFL-Minneapolis, who revealed on Twitter recently that he formed a “working group” with other Democratic senators to discuss developing a “state-run” rideshare app. Fateh is carrying a similar bill again this session.

“Forcing Uber and Lyft to suspend service in Minnesota is an unforced error that will negatively impact drivers, occasional riders, and people who rely on rideshare to pick up prescriptions, go to the grocery store, or get home when they’re too impaired to drive,” Engen commented. “Republicans are offering a solution to save Democrats from their extreme wing, and we hope they join us in getting this done.”


Anthony Gockowski

Anthony Gockowski is Editor-in-Chief of Alpha News. He previously worked as an editor for The Minnesota Sun and Campus Reform, and wrote for the Daily Caller.