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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Nolan West (R)

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Legislative update

Friday, April 5, 2024

Hello from the Capitol,

Unless dramatic action is taken very soon, rideshare companies Uber and Lyft will be leaving Minnesota on May 1 because of awful policy from the left-wing radicals in our state.

This continues to be a huge problem purely created by government.

The issue began in earnest last spring, when the legislative majorities passed HF 2369 to dramatically increase pay requirements for rideshare drivers by mandating at least $1.45 per mile and another 34 cents per minute for all trips in the Twin Cities area. This would have created a basic business-math problem and pushed companies out of the market. Thankfully, Gov. Tim Walz vetoed that irresponsible bill.

Now, even with that context at hand, the Minneapolis City Council went ahead and rammed through its own unrealistic "minimum compensation" of $1.40 per mile and 51 cents per minute – set to take effect May 1. Minneapolis Jacob Frey followed the governor’s lead by vetoing that reckless measure, but the city council overrode his veto on a 10-3 vote.

The council's vote to override Frey caused Uber to announce it would cease service in the entire metro area, while Lyft said it would stop serving Minneapolis.

The good news is it's not too late to fix this issue by passing Rep. Elliott Engen’s bill (H.F. 5006) ASAP to prevent Uber and Lyft from being pushed out of town. I am proud to co-author this common-sense solution. For it to pass, House Democrats in the majority must allow this bill to come forward for a vote of the full body. Let's hope they see this issue more clearly now than they did last spring but, at this point, the House majority is holding tight.

The Minneapolis City Council has faced significant blowback for the outrageous measure it approved, including from drivers who say they were doing fine, to advocates for people with disabilities, constituents and beyond. Even the governor himself said he is “very frustrated” over the council's onerous mandate.

Which brings us to more good news: Public outcry even has Minneapolis City Council members who voted to override the mayor saying they're interest in re-opening this issue. Time will tell how serious they are about reconsidering a public vote they already took twice, but let’s take them at their word and see this as a positive development. This issue is on the council’s April 11 meeting agenda, so let’s keep an eye on what happens that day.

The Minneapolis City Council should take some time to listen to more drivers, such as the one who recently told Fox 9: "I’m in the realm of fifty dollars [per hour] on a slow day to almost a hundred. There’s bonuses, there’s tips, there’s bonus areas so it just depends. I’m not sure how these drivers aren’t making fifteen dollars an hour and every driver and rider I’ve talked to has the same confusion.”

There are other interesting takes from drivers in that article that provide some good perspective as long as we are willing to listen. And therein lies the rub with today's makeup in the House: Whether it is the astronomical rideshare rates vetoed by the governor, or what the Minneapolis City Council is advancing in 2024, the math simply does not work. It has caused Uber and Lyft to prepare fleeing Minnesota. I’m not sure how providing drivers with exponentially higher fares while also causing them to have no riders is defined as progress, but here we are.

Minnesota is desperate for responsible leadership. We need balance in the legislature before reckless legislating causes any more damage in our state. This rideshare issue could have been avoided altogether, but now let's hope cooler heads and common sense prevail between now and May 1.

It is concerning that extremist politicians now run majorities in both the legislature and the city of Minneapolis. Responsible Democrats are harder to find these days, but I am grateful some still exist. We are about to find out if there are enough left to help enact Rep. Engen’s bill as a layer of protection for those who appreciate and depend on this transportation against careless governments.



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