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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

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Trump case expected to head to the jury today; IN food banks concerned about draft Farm Bill; NH parents, educators urge veto of anti-LGBTQ+ bills; Study shows a precipitous drop in migratory fish populations, in US and worldwide.

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Actor Robert DeNiro joins Capitol Police officers to protest against Donald Trump at his New York hush money trial as both sides make closing arguments. And the Democratic Party moves to make sure President Biden will be on the ballot in Ohio.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

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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