Politics and Government

Uber and Lyft are agreeable to one piece of Legislature’s rideshare solve

The exterior of an Uber building
An Uber driver resource center on Tuesday in south Minneapolis. A Minnesota Senate panel advanced a provision dealing with insurance coverage for rideshare drivers on Tuesday.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News

Lawmakers advanced a proposal Tuesday that addresses one item rideshare drivers and companies want settled — insurance coverage — as the Legislature seeks a solution to a rideshare standoff, but other loose ends remain before a regulatory package gets settled.

A measure that came before the Senate Commerce Committee would require companies to provide insurance for drivers.

“There’s some death benefits and personal injury benefits for writing blanket insurance that covers things like medical benefits, disability, income loss benefits, funeral and burial expenses,” said bill author Sen. Omar Fateh, DFL-Minneapolis. “There’s a lot of things in here that have been included that previously the drivers weren’t protected under.”

The insurance provisions were one part of a stakeholder working group that’s been meeting since Gov. Tim Walz vetoed a bill last year from the Legislature that added a new set of protections for rideshare drivers. Other elements of the working group will come up in future legislative hearings.

Uber and Lyft stickers on a black car
Uber and Lyft stickers are prominently displayed on a Toyota Camry in Minneapolis on March 28.
Ben Hovland | MPR News

“This is not the same bill of last year,” said Stephen Cooper, an attorney for the Minnesota Uber/Lyft Drivers Association.

“Last year, you may recall you had people who came in front of you who had been beaten, had been stabbed, had been shot had family members of family members who had been killed, and there was absolutely no compensation that came to the families at all,” Cooper said.

Representatives from Uber and Lyft were in support of the small change before the Senate Commerce Committee but stressed it’s not enough for them without more provisions that address pay.

The companies delayed their planned exit from Minneapolis after city officials decided last week to push back a pay raise by two months. Company representatives say they can support the lower rate from the state’s study but not the city’s higher rate.

“We are working diligently to get to a statewide solution that would allow these companies to operate in the state,” said Uber’s Joel Carlson. “If this passed without further amendment, that would not be the case.”

The Legislature has until the end of session, May 20, to hammer out a deal. House Majority Leader Jamie Long indicated last week Uber and Lyft’s decision to push back their departure gives them time to get the job done.

“I’m confident that this will give us the time and space we need to come to an agreement by the end of session,” said Long, DFL-Minneapolis.

Meanwhile, Uber closed its only driver resource center in the Twin Cities on Monday. 

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