CalChamber-Opposed Autonomous Vehicle Bill Held

California Chamber of Commerce-opposed legislation creating a patchwork of potentially conflicting rules for autonomous vehicles has been put on hold for the year.

The bill, SB 915 (Cortese; D-San Jose), had been scheduled for a hearing last week in the Assembly Transportation Committee. The hearing was canceled at the author’s request.

SB 915, dubbed the “robotaxi bill” in news articles, prohibits any commercial activity of autonomous vehicles that have been approved by the California Public Utilities Commission and the Department of Motor Vehicles from beginning operation in a local jurisdiction until that local jurisdiction has passed an ordinance approving their operations.

In opposing SB 915 before it passed the Senate, a coalition including the CalChamber and organizations representing businesses pointed out that its potentially conflicting rules affected the 15 largest cities in the state, as well as adjacent cities.

Other concerns raised about SB 95 included:

  • Imposes more bureaucracy and gridlock for transportation and safety solutions that are designed to alleviate congestion and help cities progress toward Vision Zero goals to reduce traffic deaths and accidents.
  • Burdens cities with additional transportation responsibilities by piling more work on local agencies that often do not have the staffing or expertise to thoughtfully create and implement rules for autonomous vehicles.
  • Impedes California’s ability to keep pace with autonomous vehicle innovation as other states advance large-scale deployment of these vehicles.
  • Worsens transportation equity by reducing access to mobility services for aging and disabled communities.

The author has promised to reintroduce his bill at the beginning of the next legislative session.

Staff Contact: Ben Golombek

Ben Golombek
Ben Golombek joined the California Chamber of Commerce on January 17, 2022 as executive vice president and chief of staff for policy. In this role, Golombek heads the CalChamber policy staff, providing strategic oversight and management of CalChamber’s legislative and regulatory priorities. Most recently, Golombek served as the West Region vice president for public affairs for AT&T. He previously served as chief of staff to three members of the California State Assembly and worked at Los Angeles City Hall as deputy city controller, communications director for a city councilmember and deputy press secretary for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Golombek graduated from Northwestern University, has an M.B.A. from the University of California, Davis, and completed the prestigious Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs. See full bio