It shouldn’t take pressure from businesses for the legislature to act right

Now that’s a first!

Governor Walz yesterday vetoed a bill that would have raised prices for customers using ridesharing apps Uber and Lyft, and likely reduced demand for the services, drying up opportunities for the drivers. Walz will, however,

create a commission to study driver wages and working conditions with the expectation it will make recommendations for a bill in 2024.

So, it’s possible that another bill will pop up next year on this very same issue.

“I am committed to finding solutions that balance the interests of all parties, including drivers and riders,” Walz said in a release. “This is not the right bill to achieve these goals.”

The common-sense idea to first study the impact that the law would have before enacting it was also raised by Representative Pat Garofalo in the House floor discussion on May 17. However, the amendment was struck down. Gov. Walz is right to veto the bill. It would likely not work as intended and would instead raise prices, punishing riders as well as drivers.

There is just one problem. There is no evidence existing anywhere that the law would have been beneficial to drivers — at least not without some unintended consequences. In California, where a law was passed enacting some similar — albeit more extreme — provisions for independent workers, the results were negative. Numerous independent workers, in fact, applied to be exempt from the law.

Yet the bill moved all the way through the legislature. It only took pressure from Uber for Governor Walz to veto the bill. Similarly, a damaging bill to give nurses the power to mandate staffing levels over hospitals was struck down due to pressure from the Mayo Clinic.

Laws passed by the legislature have far-reaching consequences on businesses, residents, and workers. Minnesotans need to trust that their legislature will do the due diligence of passing laws only when there is clear evidence that such laws are necessary and will be beneficial. Yet that’s not what happened in this session. Numerous other laws, which will raise costs for Minnesotans and businesses, were passed without much deliberation.

This raises the question: Will Minnesota residents and workers have to rely on business pressure to save them every time a harmful bill comes up in the legislature?