Progress on Uber/Lyft bill, but tricky road ahead

For the first time in months, the Minnesota ride-hailing app saga seems like it could have a happy ending.

Last week, Minneapolis delayed implementing its new minimum wage standards. This week, state legislators are moving towards a possible compromise.

Ride-hailing driver wages under the current Minnesota Senate bill barely differ from the pay Minneapolis City Council passed, set to take effect now on July 1.

Uber and Lyft representatives say it’s a no go.

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

But Tuesday’s version of the bill won’t be the last.

Sen. Omar Fateh (DFL-Minneapolis) amended it to address insurance issues for the commerce hearing.

So the ride-hailing companies would have to cover medical expenses, lost compensation, and disability pay for drivers injured while going to a passenger or driving them.

"Other places, we’re still negotiating," Sen. Fateh said. "We’re very, very close in terms of the jurisdiction around arbitration, the wages, and all that."

Fateh says a working group is closing in on a full agreement and has sent drafts to Uber and Lyft.

Drivers have argued their pay has gone down while their expenses have climbed, so they deserve higher pay. The ride-hailing companies seem to agree, but balked at Minneapolis coming in 57% higher than a state study showed drivers needed to make to meet the city’s minimum wage.

Gov. Tim Walz has called on the council to compromise and Republicans have asked the legislature to intervene by preempting the Minneapolis ordinance.

"Preemption would be a startling thing for a Democratic governor," said Stephen Cooper, an attorney for the drivers' group MULDA. "You know, we have had no preemptions. We believe in local rule. We believe in the opportunities to make their own decisions."

Carlson tells FOX 9 he’s not calling for preemption because if the legislature set a statewide rate for drivers, it would take the place of the city-set rate.