SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Gov. Gavin Newsom dealt some major blows to progressives late Friday night when he vetoed three bills – including one that would have required driverless semi-trucks to have a safety operator onboard.
The other two vetoed bills feature topics at the core of the Democratic Party's values: LGBTQ rights and immigration.
Assembly Bill 316 would have required companies testing vehicles weighing more than 10,001 pounds to have a safety operator onboard at all times. The bill would have also required more stringent testing than what is currently required by the California Department of Motor Vehicles, the agency tasked with autonomous vehicle oversight. No companies are currently allowed to test autonomous vehicles weighing more than 10,001 on public roadways, so the legislation was seemingly trying to get ahead of the curve.
But AB 316 was apparently dead on arrival.
In a rare move, the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) openly opposed the bill, stating it would have undermined the DMV's oversight, threaten economic competition with other states, and affect California’s "ability to carry forward momentum from billions of dollars in recent investments for supply chain infrastructure," wrote Dee Dee Myers, the director of GO-Biz.
"Our state is on the cusp of a new era and cannot risk stifling innovation at this critical juncture," she wrote.
AB 316 was overwhelmingly backed by unions across the state and many saw it as crucial in protecting the future of trucking jobs. Local municipalities also supported the bill, including the City of Oakland and San Francisco Mayor London Breed, whose city has been inundated with autonomous vehicle mishaps.
But Newsom didn't agree with state legislators.
"Assembly Bill 316 is unnecessary for the regulation and oversight of heavy-duty autonomous vehicle technology in California, as existing law provides sufficient authority to create the appropriate regulatory framework," he wrote in a veto statement.
The bill at the heart of LGBTQ rights would have required courts to consider a parent's affirmation of their child's gender when it came to custody battles.
AB 957 had the backing of the California State Parent Teacher Association, the Anti-Defamation League, the California ACLU and many LGBTQ groups across the state.
Newsom said he shares a commitment to advancing transgender rights in California but saw the bill as potentially detrimental to the balance of governmental powers.
"I urge caution when the Executive and Legislative branches of state government attempt to dictate - in prescriptive terms that single out one characteristic - legal standards for the Judicial branch to apply. Other-minded elected officials, in California and other states, could very well use this strategy to diminish the civil rights of vulnerable communities," Newsom wrote.
State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) called Newsom's veto a "mistake."
"This veto is a tragedy for trans kids here & around the country," Wiener posted on X, formerly Twitter. "These kids are living in fear, with right wing politicians working to out them, deny them health care, ban them from sports & restrooms & erase their humanity."
Lastly, Newsom vetoed a bill that would have banned California prisons from sharing information on incarcerated immigrants with officials from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Newsom said current law already strikes a sufficient balance on "limiting interaction to support community trust and cooperation between law enforcement and local communities."
Newsom signed a slew of bills into law, including one that requires at least one member of a state body to be physically present during public meetings that are being held virtually to ensure sufficient public interaction with officials, and child support reform.