California governor vetoes bill preventing autonomous trucks without safety drivers as per Reuters.
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill to prohibit heavy-duty driverless vehicles from operating in the state late Friday, providing relief to companies testing autonomous technology to transport goods across the country.
Thousands of labor allies, California elected officials, and public safety officials rallied and marched to the State Capitol on Tuesday to demand Gov. Gavin Newsom sign California Assembly Bill 316 (AB 316). The Teamster-backed bill, which more than 90 percent of the California legislature voted in favor of, requires a trained human operator in autonomous vehicles weighing over 10,000 pounds. Gov. Newsom has until October 14 to sign the bill into law.
AB 316 was introduced in January by Assemblymembers Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters), Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale), and Ash Kalra (D-San Jose).
“Considering… the existing regulatory framework that presently and sufficiently governs this particular technology, this bill is not needed at this time,”Newsom said in a veto message on Friday
A governor’s veto can still be overruled if the legislature votes in favor of the law with a two-thirds majority in each house. This, however, is extremely rare and has not occurred in California since 1979.
“If Gov. Newsom chooses to not do the right thing, he is sending a message to California and every state in this country that technology should overrule middle-class jobs,” said Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien. “Gov. Newsom, I got a message for you: you want to veto this bill and take on 1.2 million Teamsters in this country? Put your helmet on and buckle in your chinstrap.”
Labor leaders called on Gov. Newsom to prioritize workers before Big Tech, while union members held signs that read, “Driverless is Dangerous” and “Gov. Newsom: Sign AB 316 Now!”
While many states, like Texas and Arkansas, have permitted self-driving truck testing and operation, California, home to Alphabet (GOOGL.O), Apple (AAPL.O), and some of the most cutting-edge tech businesses, prohibits autonomous vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds.
However, industry sources told Reuters that the department of motor vehicles has been working on building a regulatory framework to abolish that prohibition, triggering the proposed law.
Developing autonomous technology has proven to be more difficult and expensive than anticipated, resulting in job layoffs and even company closures. Aurora (AUR.O), Daimler Truck (DTGGe.DE), Kodiak Robotics, and Gatik are among those still developing and deploying driverless trucking operations.
In his veto message, Governor Newsom stated that any regulations drafted by the Department of Motor Vehicles would be public, with participation from stakeholders and experts to ensure safety.
He directed the labor and workforce development department to produce proposals to limit the potential impact of such cars on jobs.