CalWatchdog Morning Read – January 13

  • Lawmaker targets Uber’s self-driving vehicles in new legislation 
  • Scientists rebuke Coastal Commission over desalination
  • Does Consumer Watchdog actually help lower insurance rates?
  • Brown cuts doctors out of tobacco tax money
  • Democratic lawmakers pushing for cap-and-trade extension

Good morning! TGIF. One lesson for the day: If you want to do something in the state, don’t try to get around the permitting process. 

It’s not enough that Uber killed its unpermitted, self-driving-vehicle pilot program in San Francisco just a week after it started; an assemblyman wants to squash any further attempts to test vehicles without a permit as well. 

Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, introduced legislation requiring the DMV to revoke registrations for self-driving vehicles in violation of the state’s Autonomous Vehicle Tester Program. The bill is a response to Uber, which last year began testing its vehicles without a permit, even picking up passengers, violating state regulations. And one of the vehicles ran a red light. 

Under Ting’s bill, law enforcement would have the authority to impound violating vehicles and the DMV could fine as much as $25,000 per vehicle per day. 

“I applaud our innovation economy and all the companies developing autonomous vehicle technology, but no community should face what we did in San Francisco,” Ting said in a statement. “The pursuit of innovation does not include a license to put innocent lives at risk.”

CalWatchdog has more. 

In other news:

  • “The Coastal Commission’s stated concern that a proposed Huntington Beach desalination plant’s intake pipes pose a threat to small and microscopic plankton has been rebutted in a letter from three prominent California marine biologists.” CalWatchdog has more. 

  • “Consumer Watchdog collects millions, but does it lower your insurance rates?” The Sacramento Bee has the story. 

  • “Jerry Brown doesn’t want to give doctors a cut of the new tobacco tax money,” writes The Sacramento Bee

  • “Days after Governor Jerry Brown called for an extension of California’s signature greenhouse gas reduction program and threatened to withhold money it generates until that happens, Assembly Democrats introduced legislation.” Capital Public Radio has more. 


  • Assembly is in at 9 a.m. to vote on the appointment of Xavier Becerra as state attorney general.

Gov. Brown: 

  • No public events announced. 

Tips: [email protected]

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1 comment

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  1. Standing Fast
    Standing Fast 18 January, 2017, 10:40

    Regarding the business of Uber, testing, and self-driving vehicles, I think the advocates of these idiot-contraptions would do well to meditate on the old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”:

    Uber knew they were breaking the law when they began using their self-driving vehicles to serve customers, so if they are going to lose a lot of money because they can’t without breaking the law, that is their problem. They are not champions of Liberty, they are champions of selfishness and greed;

    Self-driving vehicles pose a completely different problem to society than irresponsible drivers, but with the same outcomes. If something goes wrong, for whatever reason, people will be injured or killed. Since the vehicles are man-made, they are inherently imperfect and things will go wrong because that’s the way the laws of the Universe work. Uber is not exempt from these higher laws;

    The use of motor vehicles on the public right-of-way is neither God-given nor Constitutional. It is a privilege granted by the government after you have proved you can be a responsible driver. This is for the protection of the public, which is the purpose of government.

    If the DMV never allows anyone to travel in or test self-driving vehicles it will be too soon for me.

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