Minneapolis City Council to Reevaluate Vote on Uber/Lyft

Minneapolis City Council to Reevaluate Vote on Uber/Lyft

The Minneapolis City Council might reconsider its controversial rideshare plan that has prompted Uber and Lyft to pull out.

The agenda for the council’s Thursday meeting contains a “notice of intent to move reconsideration” of last week’s vote to override the veto of Mayor Jacob Frey. The actual vote wouldn’t happen until the council’s following meeting on April 11.

The notice was brought by Council Member Andrea Jenkins, who expressed reservations about overriding Frey’s veto 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 an incubator of procedural drama — but one scenario is this: One or more of the 10 council members who supported the override could have buyer’s remorse and want to change their vote, or at least buy time to see if some agreement could be reached with state lawmakers and Gov. Tim Walz, who are grappling with the issue themselves.

The override vote meant that a new ordinance setting minimum pay for drivers will move forward. It immediately prompted the two ride-hailing giants to announce they were ceasing operations in the city May 1, when the ordinance takes effect. Lyft announced it would pull out of the city, while Uber announced it would pull out of the entire Twin Cities metro.

Several supporters of the ordinance, who championed it as a victory for workers, had scoffed at the companies’ threats to leave, but the companies seem to be making good on it. Both have told drivers and riders that they’re leaving.

The fallout has been swift and fierce, with business groups, some in the public, and even Walz himself expressing frustration.

Chief among their frustrations: A state-commissioned study released last week effectively provided a roadmap for how drivers could be paid the equivalent of minimum wage — the stated goal of ordinance supporters. But the minimums the study landed on were well below what the City Council approved and closer to minimums Frey had proposed, which he said the rideshare companies would accept.

The council had been told the study was coming, but decided to vote on the pay minimums ahead of it, approving the plan 9-4. Then Frey vetoed their action, the study came out, and the council overrode the veto 10-3. Council supporters of the move appeared to either disregard the study or not fully comprehend it.

What followed: behind-the-scenes scrambling at City Hall, as clerks and council members scrutinized council rules and parliamentary procedures. Meanwhile, several state lawmakers have attempted to whip council votes.

It’s unclear if the council could actually change the minimum pay standards at the April 11 meeting, or merely vote to undo the override.

It also wasn’t 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 greeted Wednesday’s developments with guarded hope.

“Thus far, the Council has been unwilling to engage all relevant parties in developing the ordinance they pushed through,” he said in a statement. “But there has been and still is room for compromise to ensure drivers who rely on rideshare services for a paycheck get a raise and riders who rely on the service can continue getting around our city.”

The statement from the mayor’s office noted that Frey will continue to work to prepare for the rideshare services’ departure, including meeting with driver advocacy and labor groups.

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