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David McCabe Feb 13, 2017
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Lawmakers eye self-driving cars

AP Photo/Eric Risberg

Washington lawmakers are getting the ball rolling on promised efforts to hasten the rollout of self-driving cars.

  • Senate: Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune and Democrat Gary Peters said Monday they hope to release a bill together by the end of the year on self-driving vehicles. "Left on its own, the slow pace of regulation could become a significant obstacle to the development" of self-driving cars, the two said in a statement; of particular interest is "ways to improve regulatory flexibility for testing and development of self-driving vehicles without changes to regulations that would affect conventional autos."
  • House: Tuesday hearing will focus on on the deployment of autonomous vehicles. Republican lawmakers have indicated that they want to take hands-off approach. "You don't want to have the government say this is what the design is going to be," said Ohio Rep. Bob Latta, who chairs the subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that will host the hearing. "The private sector can come up with the designs."

The context: Silicon Valley and Detroit aren't slowing down when it comes to getting self-driving cars — and trucks — on the road. Regulators have started to grapple with the issues, and many companies want the federal government to help them avoid a patchwork of state laws that would make it hard for the market to grow.

What we're watching: How lawmakers address the potential impact of autonomous vehicles on employment, which very much remains an open question.