Baby, you can’t drive my car
General Motors wants to own the driverless car market. So much so they have pushed legislators in at least six states, including Massachusetts, to file bills that would only allow the zombie cars to be made and owned by auto companies who have experience building the vehicles in the US.
That would exclude from the market ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft as well as tech giant Google, who are developing the technology but looking for others to build the cars. But the way the measures have been written, they would also box out carmakers such as Ford and Volvo, who are experimenting with the cars but have not built a fully autonomous vehicle yet.
Ford and Volvo have joined forces with Uber, Lyft, and Google to beat back the bills they say will give GM a monopoly. Google, with its Waymo spinoff developing driverless cars, was able to amend a similar law in Michigan, GM’s home state, that allows technology companies to operate the vehicles.
State Sen. Eric Lesser of Longmeadow, one of two state lawmakers to file bills on GM’s behalf in the Legislature, tells the Boston Globe he authored the measure at GM’s behest and acknowledged its intent.
The transportation network companies are looking at driverless cars as the wave of their on-demand future, giving them the ability to cut out the middle man and pocket all the revenue without sharing it with drivers.
Uber is so enthralled with zombie vehicles, it launched a project to develop driverless flying cars, even hiring a NASA engineer to spearhead the project. Earlier this month, the airplane manufacturer Airbus unveiled its prototype for a flying driverless car and plans to test it later in the year. That would be interesting flying around Back Bay, given the problems the street vehicles are having identifying sea gulls and pigeons during its testing by tech company nuTonomy at the Marine Industrial Park in South Boston.
Lesser, a big proponent of the so-called “gig economy,” is in a tricky position. His was one of the leading voices in crafting a compromise measure on regulating ride-hailing companies that had a much lighter touch than some local officials and taxi industry were looking for. He told CommonWealth’s Codcast last year that Uber, Lyft, and Fasten were the transportation wave of the future and heavy regulations would stymie the emerging industry.
“This is the equivalent of regulating automobiles before the dawn of the Model T,” Lesser said last summer.
Gov. Charlie Baker says the Republican health care bill could mean loss of coverage for 500,000 state residents and a $2 billion hit to the state budget. (Boston Globe) A Lowell Sun editorial urges the House to pass the GOP health care bill, but amid all the reasons why a yes vote makes sense is this caveat: “24 million Americans could lose health care coverage.”
Baker says the MBTA should keep trying to reduce spending, but not cut service. He also says the T can use a portion of the $187 million in contract assistance provided by the state to balance its fiscal 2018 budget. (CommonWealth)
Derenzo Co., a Brockton construction company, paid $150,000 to settle charges that its employees made $37,000 in political contributions and then were reimbursed by the firm. (MassLive)
Exterminators and landscapers push back against a provision in Baker’s mid-year spending bill that would require pesticide users to register with the state and pay a fee. (Salem News)
A Herald editorial encourages the new (no snickering) Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy to dig into the voter-approved legalization of recreational pot and make whatever changes seem warranted, notwithstanding the protests of legalization advocates.
Secretary of State William Galvin is worried that anti-immigrant rhetoric stirred by President Trump will hurt the state’s ability to count all residents in the 2020 Census, potentially costing the state a congressional seat as well as a significant amount of federal aid. (Boston Globe)
The Department of Conservation and Recreation will hike fees for parking and camping at state beaches, parks, and forests this summer. (Patriot Ledger)
The Senate’s statewide listening tour continued in Lowell. (Lowell Sun)
President Trump presses wavering Republicans ahead of Thursday’s scheduled House vote on the GOP-sponsored health care bill. (Boston Globe) Threat or warning? Trump tells lawmakers if they don’t pass the measure, they’ll lose their jobs. (New York Times)
Scot Lehigh says Donald Trump owes Barack Obama two apologies — for his years spent promoting racist birther nonsense and, more recently, for the claim that Obama wiretapped him, now refuted by the FBI director and head of the National Security Agency. (Boston Globe)
Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, allegedly worked secretly for a Russian billionaire in support of Russian President Vladimir Putin, despite Manafort’s and the campaign’s denials he ever worked for Russian interests. (Associated Press)
A Herald editorial scolds Senate Democrats for searching fruitlessly for reasons to knock Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, while a Globe editorial says Democrats should not filibuster the pick and force Republicans to exercise the so-called “nuclear option” ending the 60-vote requirement to end debate.
After Gorsuch admonished Trump’s attacks on the judiciary as “disheartening,” the president vowed to continue criticizing judges. (New York Times)
Kevin Cullen offers a nuanced tribute to Martin McGuinness, the one-time leader of the violent IRA in Northern Ireland who then helped lead the peacemaking process that resulted in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. McGuinness died Tuesday at age 66. (Boston Globe)
Republican State Rep. Geoff Diehl edges closer to a declaration that he’ll challenge US Sen. Elizabeth Warren next year, and he says President Trump’s political team would eagerly join the fray. (Boston Herald)
Things turn a little testy over police and public safety issues between Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and his reelection challenger, City Councilor Tito Jackson, at a Roxbury anti-violence youth event. (Boston Globe) Walsh banked nearly $30,000 in campaign donations from 70 Boston police officers in the month after a new contract was settled that provides $68 million in raises to police. (Boston Herald)
US Rep. William Keating has filed a bill that would exempt returning seasonal immigrant workers, many of whom work in the service industry on Cape Cod, from the national cap on H-2B visas. (Cape Cod Times)
State transportation officials have filed for an environmental review for the South Coast Rail to run through Middleboro, a cheaper alternative than the proposed route through Stoughton. (Herald News)
Take a tour of some of the key features of the new Orange Line cars that are being built for the MBTA. (CommonWealth)
Uber leaders say the company “must change” in the wake of a number of scandals. (Time)
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission released its inspection report on Pilgrim nuclear power plant and cited the Plymouth facility with 11 safety and operational deficiencies. The agency will assign a third inspector to the plant to ensure the fixes are taking place. (Cape Cod Times)
Businesses and activists in western Massachusetts press Gov. Charlie Baker to drop his support for the expansion of natural gas pipeline infrastructure. (Berkshire Eagle)
Local and state officials are looking to pressure General Chemical to clean-up its contaminated site in Framingham after town officials say the now-defunct company abandoned its remediation agreement. (MetroWest Daily News)
The owners of Suffolk Downs race track say they want to continue simulcasting races at the site even after the sale and redevelopment of the track goes through. (Boston Globe)
More than 200 police officers from a variety of agencies conducted 19 raids on the South Shore and Boston Tuesday that resulted in the arrest of 19 people and seizure of drugs, guns, and cash. (The Enterprise)
City Councilor Tito Jackson hints that he would replace Boston Police Commissioner William Evans if he is elected mayor this fall. (Boston Herald) Minority community complaints about the Boston police have ranged from criticism over unsolved homicides to a decline in the number of minority rank-and-file officers since Walsh took office. (Boston Herald)
Two men were charged with stealing more than 8,300 pounds of scallops from a New Bedford cold storage facility on the city’s fishing pier and selling them for cash to a nearby storage facility after unsuccessfully peddling them to other fisheries. (Standard-Times)Jacqueline Pence pleads guilty to stealing $27,000 from a youth football and cheering league in Peabody but gets off easy after agreeing to pay back the money. (Salem News)
Peabody police arrest the same man twice in one night for driving under the influence of alcohol. (Salem News)