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Newsom Vetoes California’s Bill on Autonomous Trucks

California Gov. Gavin Newsom shockingly vetoed a bill that would have required a human driver in self-driving, autonomous trucks.

Assembly Bill 316, passed the Senate on a 36-2 vote. It would require autonomous trucks, weighing from 10,000 pounds to big rigs weighing 80,000 pounds, to have a human safety driver on board. 

The bill was sponsored by Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, (D-Winters).

“There is a reason why local elected and public safety officials, local firefighters and police officers, and the state’s highway patrol officers all support AB 316. They, and we, want a collaborative, truly public process between the Legislature, local officials and the executive branch in making these decisions that impact the safety of millions of California travelers and hundreds of thousands of jobs, “ she said after the vote on Sept. 11.

Aguiar-Curry’s office said she’ll push for an override vote should Newsom veto the bill. A two-thirds majority vote in each house of the Legislature would be required.

Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, head of the California Labor Federation, estimates that removing drivers would cost a quarter million jobs in the state.

“We will not sit by as bureaucrats side with tech companies, trading our safety and jobs for increased corporate profits. We will continue to fight to make sure that robots do not replace human drivers and that technology is not used to destroy good jobs,” Fletcher said in a statement late Friday.

Newsom said in a statement the reason he would not sign the bill is because existing legislation is sufficient. 

Newsom pointed to 2012 legislation that allows the state Department of Motor Vehicles to work with the California Highway Patrol, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration “and others with relevant expertise to determine the regulations necessary for the safe operation of autonomous vehicles on public roads.”

Last Tuesday in Sacramento, hundreds of truck drivers, union leaders and other supporters of the bill rallied at the state Capitol. 

Drivers chanted “sign that bill” as semi-trucks lined a street in front of the Capitol. There are about 200,000 commercial truck drivers in California, according to Teamsters officials.

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