Connecting state and local government leaders

Bill Preventing States From Banning Self-Driving Cars Moves Forward

a row of Google self-driving Lexus cars at a Google event outside the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.

a row of Google self-driving Lexus cars at a Google event outside the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. Eric Risberg / AP Photo


Connecting state and local government leaders

STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | Removal of Dallas Confederate monument halted last minute; 15 states and D.C. sue to save DACA; energy company wants to drill under Denver school

Our state and local news roundup is compiled by Route Fifty’s staff and was edited by Dave Nyczepir. Help us crowdsource state and local government news from across the United States by flagging them on Twitter with these hashtags: #stategovwire and #localgovwire.

SELF-DRIVING CARS | A bill unanimously passed in the U.S. House would prevent states from banning autonomous vehicles if made law. Automakers would receive exemptions to deploy 25,000 self-driving vehicles without needing to meet safety standards and 100,000 vehicles within three years after that. The bill was fast-tracked, which prevents amendments, and the Senate has been working on similar legislation. “Self-driving vehicles stand to make our transportation system safer and more efficient,” said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. “Advancing this technology to road-ready requires government policy that encourages continued testing and development.” [Reuters]

MONUMENTS | The Texas Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans sued Dallas over City Council’s resolution ordering the immediate removal of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s statue. U.S. District Judge Sidney Fitzwater granted a temporary restraining order hours after the resolution was passed Wednesday with a hearing scheduled for Thursday afternoon. "The monument means a lot to me," said Gary Bray, TDSCV’s former commander, who stopped the statue’s removal at the last moment. "Had to hit that first line of police and tell them I had an order from the judge." [NBC 5]

IMMIGRATION | Fifteen states and the District of Columbia sued over President Trump’s move to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program protecting young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from deportation. The suit was filed in the Eastern District of New York by New York, Massachusetts, Washington, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia. Congress has six months to find a legislative solution, but Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson argued the decision violates the immigrants’ right to due process. [The Associated Press]

DRILLING | A school board north of Denver, Colorado feels it doesn’t have much sway over a decision about whether an energy company will drill for minerals underneath a high school. The board met Wednesday to consider signing a lease with Great Western Oil and Gas Co. that would enable the company to access 39 acres of mineral rights about two miles under the school. A lawyer for Adams 12 Five Star Schools noted that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has authority over oil and gas drilling in the state. “I feel we have no good option to say this is not what we want,” board President Kathy Plomer said. The board plans to make its final decision about the lease later this month. [The Denver Post]

NO-SHOW | Birmingham, Alabama Mayor William Bell set a meeting on the 2018 fiscal year operating budget with City Council and then missed it Wednesday. The city is operating at last year’s spending levels without an approved budget because Bell and the council are deadlocked. Bell’s excuse? He was fielding calls regarding incoming Hurricane Irma evacuees and Florida International University sports. Without Bell, the council resolved to re-submit its previous budget proposal with amendments to include requested funding for long-time employees’ longevity pay and human resources and equipment management. "It is not fair to the citizens," said Council President Pro Tem Steven Hoyt. "We don't have the attention of the mayor to have this ... dialogue that needs to take place.” []

ENERGY | Gov. Bill Walker, of Alaska, says market interest is “unprecedented” in a $43 billion liquefied natural gas project that would allow for piping gas from the state’s North Slope about 800 miles and shipping it on tanker vessels to Asian markets. With a global natural gas glut, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and BP all pulled out of the project. That left the state as its sole owner. Walker said last September he’d make a decision in about a year on whether to move the LNG project forward. State Sen. Cathy Giessel, a Republican and political opponent of Walker, wasn’t convinced the governor’s support for the project is warranted. "I want to know who is offering to buy this gas and who is willing to go in this with us," she said. "Unless something significant has changed, this is the same situation we were in a year ago, when the major oil companies said this (project) just isn't viable at this time.” [Alaska Dispatch News]