Friday, March 10, 2017

Did Charlie Geren just do something...good?!?

"And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins."
Mark 2:22

Whoa, whoa, whoa...wait a second...what?!?
State Rep. Charlie Geren isn’t about to let Texas get left in the dust when driverless vehicles start easing their way into everyday life. Especially since car manufacturers need somewhere to test them and could one day need someplace to mass produce them.

“I don’t want General Motors, or Ford, or Volkswagen, or Uber or anybody going anywhere else because Texas isn’t quite ready for this yet,” Geren told The Texas Tribune late Thursday.

The Fort Worth Republican this week filed House Bill 3475, which seeks to lay the framework for driving autonomous vehicles on Texas roads. Geren’s under no impression that the technology is well tested — or well trusted — enough that Texans are going to be walking into dealerships and buying driverless cars anytime soon. But he wants to get the ball rolling so car companies can expand testing of the technology in the state.
The article goes on to detail objections from Google, who believe Geren's bill might slow the development of autonomous vehicles.  Then, of course, there's the fact that this is coming from Geren.  So trust is, putting it mildly, minimal.

So we decided to read the bill.  It's a simple, two page, bill that's not written in lawyer language. seems like a good start.

Also, we must confess that we LOVE this provision:
(c) A political subdivision of this state may not impose a local fee, registration requirement, franchise, or other regulation related to an automated motor vehicle or automated driving system.
In other words, Geren is pre-empting another shakedown from the Austin City Council "burdensome over-regulation" at the local level.

Some might object to the $10 million insurance requirement, and any insurance mandate would be less than 100% free market.  But, realistically speaking, it's difficult to see how a bill like this could pass without some form of insurance requirement.  All things considered, it's a surmountable hurdle.

Bottom Line: If it stays close to its current form (admittedly a big if) then Charlie Geren's autonomous vehicle bill seems like a meaningful step forward.


Read the full Trib article here; read the bill here.

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