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A new study shows health disparities cost Texas billions of dollars; Senate rejects impeachment articles against Mayorkas, ending trial against Cabinet secretary; Iowa cuts historical rural school groups.

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The Senate dismisses the Mayorkas impeachment. Maryland Lawmakers fail to increase voting access. Texas Democrats call for better Black maternal health. And polling confirms strong support for access to reproductive care, including abortion.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

Backlash after regulators permit robotaxis on LA, SF freeways

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Monday, March 4, 2024   

A bill to grant local cities the ability to regulate autonomous vehicles is getting a lot more attention after the California Public Utilities Commission decided Friday to allow robotaxis on Los Angeles and San Francisco freeways.

The commission granted the company Waymo's driverless taxi service permission to travel up to 65 miles per hour.

Chris Griswold, president of Teamsters Joint Council 42, represents truck drivers and said he supports Senate Bill 915 over concern about the safety record of autonomous vehicles.

"These vehicles are just stopping for no reason," Griswold pointed out. "We've had emergency vehicles blocked. You had animals run over, you had a lady drug down the street. We can't trust these companies to just be out on the streets and run wild. We have to have our community leaders regulating these vehicles."

In October the California Department of Motor Vehicles revoked the operating permit of the company Cruise, which is backed by General Motors, following an investigation after a pedestrian was dragged 20 feet. Waymo is backed by Google and said in a statement the company has "no immediate plans" to put its driverless vehicles on the highways and will take a "careful and incremental approach to expansion."

Janice Hahn, a Los Angeles County supervisor, said in a statement Angelenos should not be Big Tech's guinea pigs and declared support for the bill to allow local control.

Sen. Dave Cortese, D-San Jose, the bill's author, said it would allow cities and counties to regulate autonomous vehicles in the same way they set the rules for traditional taxis right now, but he is not calling for a ban.

"The bill will not allow the ban of AVs or robotaxis," Cortese explained. "We will ensure every step of the way that the bill embraces the innovation but at the same time make sure that we're in a position to make it as safe as possible."

The bill is currently awaiting consideration in the state Senate committees on local government and on transportation.


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