The Potluck

Lead author of Uber and Lyft bill withdraws from governor’s task force

By: - August 25, 2023 1:31 pm

Uber and Lyft drivers lift Sen. Omar Fateh, DFL-Minneapolis, on their shoulders after a bill passed on May 21, 2023 setting minimum pay rates for drivers. Photo by A.J. Olmscheid/Senate Media Services.

Uber and Lyft drivers had no greater champion at the state Capitol this year than Sen. Omar Fateh, DFL-Minneapolis.

He was first to introduce a bill to raise wages and expand protections for Uber and Lyft drivers, and when the proposal foundered, he pressured legislative leaders to revive it in the final days of the session.

He promised drivers the bill would pass the Legislature, and when it did, drivers hoisted him on their shoulders and paraded him through the Capitol. Fateh also promised drivers Gov. Tim Walz would sign the bill, though Walz issued his first and only veto to block it. (Walz’s office said he never committed to signing the bill if it passed.)

After killing the bill, Walz created a task force to propose legislation for next year.

Fateh was appointed to the task force by Senate Majority Leader Kari Dziedzic, DFL-Minneapolis, but withdrew from the group and never attended a meeting. A replacement has not been appointed.

Through a spokesperson, Fateh declined to say why he withdrew or if he would support the legislation proposed by the task force.

The task force includes drivers from the Minnesota Uber/Lyft Drivers Association, which played a key role in drafting the bill passed by the Legislature, as well as representatives for Uber and Lyft, a disability advocate and other stakeholders.

House Majority Leader Jamie Long, DFL-Minneapolis, who was not an author on the original bill, was appointed by the House speaker to serve as the House representative.

Long stepped in at the end of the legislative session to try to negotiate a compromise with drivers, the company’s lobbyists and the governor’s staff. Ultimately, the Legislature passed a bill that the governor and the companies rejected. Uber threatened to cut service in Minnesota if the bill became law.

Long said his presence on the task force shows the DFL caucus’s commitment to passing a bill that the governor will sign next year.

The bill’s lead author in the House, Rep. Hodan Hassan, DFL-Minneapolis, declined to comment on why she wasn’t serving on the task force but said she has full faith in Long.

The task force is supposed to submit a report to the governor with recommendations by Jan. 1.

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Max Nesterak
Max Nesterak

Max Nesterak is the deputy editor of the Reformer and reports on labor and housing. Previously, he was an associate producer for Minnesota Public Radio after a stint at NPR. He also co-founded the Behavioral Scientist and was a Fulbright Scholar to Berlin, Germany.