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Governor Walz issues his first veto; the bill would have raised the pay of rideshare drivers

Gov. Tim Walz vetoed a bill on Thursday that would have provided wage increases and job protections for rideshare drivers.

This is Walz’s fifth legislative session, but his first veto. He said he would set up a commission to study drivers’ wages and working conditions in the hope that it would make recommendations for a bill in 2024.

“I am committed to finding solutions that balance the interests of all parties, including drivers and riders,” Walz said in a written statement. “This is the wrong bill to achieve these goals.”

The governor announced the action hours after Uber announced plans to pull out of all Minnesota markets except the Twin Cities metro area and offer only its premium products. such as Uber Black and Uber Black SUV. “We end up with a bill that will make it impossible to continue serving most areas of the state,” Uber spokeswoman Freddie Goldstein said Thursday.

Uber and Lyft had previously urged Walz to veto the bill as rideshare drivers lined the hallway outside the state Capitol governor’s office in recent days, chanting encouragement for him to sign it.

The bill, sponsored by freshman Sen. Omar Fateh, DFL-Minneapolis, was introduced late in the session. When he drove past the Senate on Monday, the final night, drivers outside the Senate chamber held Fatah up in the air as they celebrated.

The vetoed bill would have required drivers to be paid $1.45 per mile and 34 cents per minute. The bill included inflation-indexed minimum wage guarantees with annual adjustments on July 1.

Uber and Lyft said ride prices would increase by at least 50% if the bill becomes law. The 10-mile trip between downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul would cost nearly $50, under the vetoed bill, Goldstein said.

In Minneapolis, the median hourly earnings of Uber drivers between April 10 and May 1 were $35.64, including tips and promotions for time hired, Goldstein said.

Lyft officials also said the company would leave many Minnesota markets outside the metro area if the bill becomes law, creating transportation wildernesses across the state.

Push for a veto also came from Dakota County officials in a letter to Walz on Monday.

“The impact on transportation services for the Dakota County disabled community, without any consideration or planning, warrants your action to pause while everyone has a chance to explain how they would be impacted in any way negative,” read the letter signed by the Dakota County Board Chairman. Liz Workman and Joe Atkins, chair of the Dakota County Legislative Advisory Task Force.

Dakota County has partnered with Lyft since 2019 to help people with disabilities use on-demand transportation to get to work and community events. More than 1,400 people with disabilities use Lyft each month in Dakota County, the letter says.

“These Lyft rides are critical to their success,” the letter states. “could make these rides unaffordable for the people we support.”

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