Walz vetoes rideshare bill, signs executive order after Uber threatens to end service in Greater Minnesota

Walz vetoes rideshare bill, signs executive order to further discuss issue

Walz vetoes rideshare bill, signs executive order to further discuss issue

Gov. Tim Walz has vetoed a bill that would’ve required pay increases and offered more legal protection for rideshare drivers in Minnesota.

Late Thursday afternoon, Gov. Tim Walz announced he’s vetoed the bill, which was passed on the final weekend of the legislative session.

The governor also signed an executive order that calls for a working group of drivers, riders, rideshare companies and other stakeholders to study the issue and provide recommendations for a rideshare bill 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,” 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.”

Additionally, the governor’s order will require the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry to study data regarding the working conditions of rideshare drivers in the state and how potential changes to the law could impact access and cost for riders.

His action comes just a couple of hours after popular rideshare service Uber threatened to stop operating entirely outside of the Twin Cities metro area starting on Aug. 1 if Walz signed the bill.

Before it was officially approved by lawmakers, Uber urged its followers to tell lawmakers to oppose the bill, which set minimum compensation rates, the ability to be reinstated after deactivation and more legal rights for drivers.

Thursday afternoon, the company said it would pull its service from Greater Minnesota if Walz signed the bill into law, adding that it would also only offer premium service in the metro “to match the premium prices required by the bill.”

“Following several months of unanswered requests to work with legislators on comprehensive legislation that provides flexibility and benefits to drivers without compromising service for riders, we are left with a bill that will make it impossible to continue serving most areas of the state. If the bill is signed into law, beginning August 1, Uber will stop operating our rides service outside of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area,” Freddi Goldstein, a spokesperson for Uber, said in a statement to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS early Thursday afternoon.

The bill was celebrated by rideshare drivers when it passed the Legislature, and some riders also expressed their support for the drivers. However, others worried about the lack of service if Uber followed through with its threat, which would’ve also eliminated jobs for some drivers.

The company says the bill would’ve required drivers in Minneapolis to be paid more per mile than anywhere else in the country and would’ve reduced safety for riders by giving drivers the chance to challenge deactivation.

In his letter to House Speaker Melissa Hortman regarding the veto, Walz noted that the current bill could’ve made Minnesota one of the most expensive states for rideshare service in the country and said lawmakers need a better understanding of the potential impacts of such legislation. He added that “disability advocates, anti-violence organizations, and organizations representing seniors, childcare centers, and local governments have all raised significant concerns about the impact of this bill” over how it would’ve limited or eliminated transportation options for vulnerable communities.

Before the governor’s action, Uber and Lyft drivers were seen protesting outside Walz’s office at the Minnesota Capitol Thursday.

The governor had been noncommittal, saying he was still considering everything just hours before his decision.

It also comes just a few days after last-minute changes to another controversial bill known as “Keeping Nurses at the Bedside Act.”

After Mayo Clinic threatened to take $1 billion in investments elsewhere, lawmakers included an exemption for the health system. However, after further debate, lawmakers removed a measure that would’ve given nurses more say in staffing levels but kept provisions to protect nurses from workplace violence and help address burnout. The renamed “Nurse and Patient Safety Act” was then approved before the end of the session.

That bill also has yet to be signed by the governor.