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Opinion editor's note: Editorials represent the opinions of the Star Tribune Editorial Board, which operates independently from the newsroom.


With just days before the end of the 2024 legislative session in St. Paul, much remains on lawmakers' to-do list, including a bonding bill, a proposed Equal Rights Amendment and sports betting, all of which would have a significant impact on individuals and institutions in Minnesota.

But for many Minnesotans, including some disabled and disadvantaged individuals, the fate of potential legislation regarding rideshare services Uber and Lyft may have the most profound impact. The two companies have now vowed to not just leave Minneapolis, where the far-left-majority City Council overrode a mayoral veto in order to legislate new compensation levels for drivers, but the entire state.

That threat may be a bluff, as some council members and legislators claim. And other new rideshare options are hoping to fill the void — although full and efficient service seems highly unrealistic, at least by July 1, when the new Minneapolis regulations are set to begin.

If the threat is real, the damage would be, too. And not only to the big rideshare companies, but to the little guy — drivers justifiably concerned over compensation levels, and also those working in restaurants, bars, hotels, convention centers, arenas and beyond who would be economically hurt, particularly if convention and event planners as well as others delay or cancel professional or personal visits to Minnesota. Such an outcome would affect rideshare drivers as well as a key driver of the state's economy that employs thousands.

Summertime is peak tourism in this wintry state, so the timing couldn't be worse. Especially since Minneapolis leads a list of North American cities with the biggest recent rebound from COVID-caused slowdowns in downtown activity, with visits increasing 45.3% in March compared with February of last year, according to new data from the University of Toronto.

That comeback, albeit still not at pre-pandemic levels, didn't come quickly or easily. But the downturn from losing rideshare services could be rapid. And it could renew a narrative of a dysfunctional city — and by extension, metro area and state — that took hold after the 2020 murder of George Floyd, the resulting riots that still scar parts of the city, and a majority of City Council members standing on a stage with the words "DEFUND POLICE" in big block letters.

Even though that threat didn't become official policy, the perception lingers that it did, and the enduring shortage of police officers in Minneapolis has compounded the thought among many that the city is not safe. In other words, now is not the time to exacerbate the challenges some city leaders created.

It appears that it's now up to the Legislature, in its final days before the session ends, to fix the issue. A recent attempt to do just that was the result of negotiations between state and city lawmakers, but not Uber and Lyft, the companies claim. That's not going to work; the companies at the center of the dispute must be party to resolving it.

Legislators reluctant to preempt the Minneapolis City Council should remember that the council members leading it had no hesitation to preempt the state by jeopardizing the availability of a service that, like it or not, is an essential part of the modern economy.

The DFL has a governing trifecta, with control of the executive and legislative branches of state government. That privilege needs to be used to provide leadership and solve problems like the threat of losing the two dominant rideshare services. The DFL needs to work with Republican lawmakers, the companies and the drivers to solve this problem — and fast.