April 24, 2024

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The Minneapolis City Council could reconsider the Uber/Lyft vote

The Minneapolis City Council could reconsider the Uber/Lyft vote

The Minneapolis City Council may reconsider the controversial ride-sharing plan that prompted Uber and Lyft to pull out.

The agenda for Thursday's council meeting contains a “Notice of Intent to Move Reconsideration” of last week's vote to override Mayor Jacob Frey's veto. The actual vote will not take place until the next council meeting on April 11.

The notice was filed by Council Member Andrea Jenkins, who expressed reservations about Frey's veto override but ultimately supported the override. Jenkins could not immediately be reached for comment.

Much was unclear Wednesday morning — and the 13-member City Council is often the incubator of procedural drama — but one scenario is this: One or more of the 10 council members who supported the override could feel remorse and want to change their vote. Or at least buy time to see if some agreement can be reached with state lawmakers and Gov. Tim Walz, who are grappling with the issue themselves.

The override vote means the new law setting minimum wages for drivers will go forward. This immediately prompted the two giant passenger transportation companies to announce the cessation of their operations in the city on May 1, when the decree comes into effect. Lyft announced it would pull out of the city, while Uber announced it would pull out of the entire Twin Cities metro.

Many of the law's supporters, who have defended it as a victory for workers, have scoffed at companies' threats to leave, but the companies appear to be following through. They both told drivers and passengers they were leaving.

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The fallout was swift and violent, with business groups, some members of the public, and even Walz himself expressing frustration.

Among their top frustrations: A state-commissioned study released last week effectively provided a roadmap for how to pay drivers equivalent to the minimum wage — the stated goal of the law's supporters. But the minimum the study found was much lower than what the City Council agreed to and closer to the minimum Frey proposed, which he said ride-sharing companies would accept.

The council was told a study was coming, but decided to vote on the minimum wage before it did, approving the plan 9-4. Fry then vetoed their action, the study was dropped, and the council overrode his veto by a 10-3 vote. It appears that supporters of this step in the Council either ignore the study or do not fully understand it.

What ensued: a backstage scramble at City Hall, where clerks and council members scrutinized council rules and parliamentary procedures. Meanwhile, several state legislators tried to get council votes.

It is unclear whether the council can actually change the minimum wage standards at the April 11 meeting, or just vote to undo the override.

It was also not immediately clear Wednesday morning how many votes — a simple majority of seven or a supermajority of nine — would be needed to undo the override.

Frey received Wednesday's developments with cautious hope.

“Until now, the Council has not been prepared to engage all stakeholders in developing the law they passed,” he said in a statement. “But there was and continues to be room for compromise to ensure drivers who rely on paid rideshare services get a raise, and riders who rely on the service can continue to get around our city.”

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The statement from the mayor's office noted that Frey will continue to work to prepare for the departure of ride-sharing services, including meeting with driver and worker advocacy groups.