Rideshare fiasco torpedoes DFL’s legislative agenda

The best and the worst of Minnesota was on display on Sunday night.

The best: In game seven on their series against the Denver Nuggets, the Timberwolves, who found themselves 15 points down at half time, came back to win 98-90 and book an date with the Dallas Mavericks in the Conference Finals. At times the Timberwolves trailed by as many as 20 points, making it the largest Game 7 comeback win in the past 25 seasons.

The worst: While the Timberwolves were making our state proud, the DFL, in scenes that would embarrass a banana republic, was ramming through a 2,800 page Omnibus Bill that nobody had read and was blocking any debate on the bill whatsoever.

The bill included everything from increased penalties for straw gun purchases to a hike in the payroll tax required to fund the state’s ever more expensive Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) program.

The bill also included guarantees of minimum rates for Uber and Lyft drivers of $1.28 per mile and 31 cents per minute, overriding the ordinance passed by Minneapolis City Council that started this whole fiasco. In addition, the bill requires the companies to deal with “driver advocacy organizations,” with a description of these organizations so specific that it applies to only one. A spokesman for Uber noted, correctly, that “the coming price increases may hurt riders and drivers alike,” but added that “we will be able to continue to operate across the state under the compromise brokered by the governor.”    

This brings to an end — for now — a saga which has cost the DFL dear. The Minnesota Reformer reports that:

The Senate on Saturday recessed for 11 hours because they were negotiating the Uber and Lyft deal. Sen. Omar Fateh, DFL-Minneapolis, who has championed the cause of some Uber and Lyft drivers for more than a year, leveraged his effective veto to hold up the rest of Democrats’ agenda until a deal on a ride-hail bill was reached. Fateh was absent during a floor vote on Saturday morning, and the Senate was only able to pass one bipartisan bill that increased funding for emergency medical services in greater Minnesota.

With Saturday wasted, Democrats were forced to make a legislative booyah late Sunday.

The Senate ran out of time to take up major bills — such as the [Equal Rights Amendment] — and had to triage the less controversial bills. 

When, for example, a $930 million infrastructure bill flopped owing to lack of Republican support, the DFL sought to push a $71 million all-cash infrastructure bill instead. This got sufficient votes but not before the 12 a.m. deadline.

And so ends the wild legislative session of 2024. What was supposed to be “Steady as she goes” heading into November’s elections turned into the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Many Minnesotans will be thanking Anthony Edwards for his stunning performance on the court Sunday. They also owe some thanks to Sen. Fateh for his actions — or inactions — in the legislature on Saturday.