Northlanders react to possible changes to rideshare bill

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Back-and-forth moment at the state Capitol yesterday, after threats from Uber to cut off services outside the Twin Cities seemed to convince Governor Walz to veto a bill that established a minimum wage for rideshare drivers.

Six years ago, Jeff Bushnell shut down the cab company in Duluth he owned and operated, and begin driving for Uber.

“When I heard Uber and Lyft were coming to me,” said Jeff Bushnell, an Uber driver in Duluth. “It was a good thing. I wanted to go at the Times and get out of the taxi business after 20 years and then switch to that format. And I’ve been doing that ever since full time.”

New York City became the first to mandate a minimum wage back in 2018, which is now at $1.31 per mile and 56 cents per minute. Officials at Uber say this doesn’t translate well to smaller markets.

Before the governor vetoed the rideshare bill on Thursday, Minnesota would have established a minimum wage of $1.25 per mile driven, and 34 cents per minute of drivers’ time.

“When I heard about the legislation, I had mixed feelings,” said Bushnell. “It would have meant to raise if it would have passed. So who doesn’t want a raise right? But it’s probably best that it didn’t pass. It’s very busy. It’s a very good living. I enjoy it and anything that would threaten or jeopardize that, I would be against.”

With the veto comes the formation of a working group of rideshare drivers, riders, the companies themselves, and even members of the disability community. They will work to recreate the current bill, pushing it off to the next legislative session in 20-24.