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U.S. Senate Committee Holds Hearing on Data Ownership

The U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs held a full committee hearing entitled “Data Ownership: Exploring Implications for Data Privacy Rights and Data Valuation.” Committee Chairman Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) acknowledged in his opening statement that “there have been many questions about what personal data is being collected, how it is being collected, with whom it is being shared and how it is being used.” Rapid innovation of technology has impacted all sectors and markets as industries strive to be more connected and technologically savvy. This results in a plethora of data being produced, all throughout the day about consumer habits and daily lives. Chairman Crapo goes on to state that “associated with concepts about data ownership or control is the value of personal data being used in the marketplace, and the opportunities for individuals to benefit from its use.” Ranking Member Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) offered examples of companies in his opening statement that have had data breaches or do not have a history of protecting consumer data and expressed concern when talking about “Americans’ data to be treated like property.”

In their opening statements, witness testimonies touched on similar concepts as they provided lawmakers considerations to contemplate when drafting privacy legislation. Mr. Chad Marlow discussed data as a property model, and a “central tenet of [that model] is that the government should establish – through regulating and policing a universal marketplace of personal data – that individuals are “owners” of their personal information and, consequently, have a property-based right to sell or refuse the sale of their data to third parties.” Mr. Marlow highlighted two pieces of legislation in the U.S., the California Consumer Privacy Act and Maine’s “Act to Protect the Privacy of Online Customer Information”, that make advances to protecting consumer privacy that, at the same time, do not treat data as property. However, both of these pieces of legislation fail to establish who owns the digital data, which Mr. Ritter states is the “the most fundamental question [when discussing privacy law].”

Witnesses:

  • Jeffrey Ritter, Founding Chair, American Bar Association Committee on Cyberspace Law, External Lecturer
  • Chad Marlow, Senior Advocacy and Policy Counsel, American Civil Liberties Union
  • Will Rinehart, Director of Technology and Innovation Policy, American Action Forum
  • Michelle Dennedy, Chief Executive officer, DrumWave Inc.

To view the hearing in its entirety, click here.

U.S. Senator Calls for New Electric Vehicle Subsidies

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is proposing a new $400 billion dollar incentive program for electric vehicles. According to Politico, the proposal would start with $3,000 vouchers to trade in gas-powered vehicles for plug-in electric and plug-in hybrid or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. For lower income Americans’, larger  vouchers would be available.

The current program is stated under the Internal Revenue Code Section 30D, which establishes an electric vehicle (EV) tax credit as an incentive for consumers to buy and own qualified electric vehicles. The claimed credit can be up to $7,500 and is based on the EV’s car battery size. The federal government is looking at phasing out these tax credits and while there is no set expiration date, that process has already started.

Schumer intends for the program to be part of a larger climate bill and has not yet written up legislation for the proposal. Schumer’s program would be in addition to the current program, which some are hoping to expand. However, consumers would need to pick between the two programs.

U.S. House Committee Holds Hearing on Sustainability within Transportation Sector

The U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Energy held a hearing on “The Next Mile: Technology Pathways to Accelerate Sustainability Within the Transportation Sector.” In his opening statement, Chairman Conor Lamb (D-PA) emphasizes that “transportation is vital to our everyday lives,” and the purpose of the hearing is to discuss how to “be smarter about our investments in technologies that can help reduce emissions in this sector.” Ranking Member Randy Weber’s (R-TX) opening statement further emphasizes the need for a conversation about sustainable transportation and H.R. 2170, the Vehicle Innovation Act of 2019, which would provide additional funding for Department of Energy vehicle research activity and research to reduce or eliminate vehicle emissions or petroleum usage.

Witnesses, in testimonies, highlighted the importance of transforming our forms of mobility into affordable, and energy efficient options, such as electric vehicles and optimizing alternative fuel options. Witnesses also discussed how the U.S. can better utilize our energy resources to benefit our national security, climate change, and increase the efficiency of American lives and that these start with upgrading our modes of transportation.

Witnesses:

  • Ann M. Schlenker, Director, Center for Transportation Research, Argonne National Laboratory
  • James Chen, Vice President of Public Policy, Rivian Automotive LLC
  • Brooke Coleman, Executive Director, Advanced Biofuels Business Council
  • Claus Daniel, Director, Sustainable Transportation Program, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Tim Cortes, Vice President of Hydrogen Energy Systems, Plug Power Inc.

To view the hearing in its entirety, click here.

U.S. House of Representatives Committee Holds Hearing on Transportation Network Companies

The U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Highways and Transit held a hearing entitled, “The Future of Transportation Network Companies: Challenges and Opportunities.” Prior to hearing, Chairwoman of the Subcommittee Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) stated in a press release, “as state and local governments struggle to integrate new modes of transportation into their networks, Congress must take an active role ensuring safety and accountability for the needs of the traveling public.” In his opening statement, Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, noted the importance of how transportation network companies, such as Uber and Lyft, are impacting America’s roadways and “what this new business model means for public safety, jobs, emissions, transit services, and other factors, must be at the center of any policy decision to allow these companies to access our infrastructure.”

During the Member Panel, Representative Smith (R-NJ) and Representative Suozzi (D-NY) both detailed in their opening statements the importance of ensuring that passengers utilizing ride hailing companies are getting into the right vehicle to avoid circumstances of those such as Samantha “Sami” Josephson, who was kidnapped and murdered by a man pretending to be an uber driver. The bipartisan legislation, H.R. 3262, in honor of Samantha was introduced this past June by Representative Smith and cosponsored by Representative Suozzi, was taken up in the subcommittee hearing. The legislation would require enhanced vehicle identification procedures to improve the safety of ride hailing passengers.

Witnesses during Panel 1 all echoed similar sentiments during their opening statements expressing the need for ensuring the safety of passengers using transportation network companies (TNCs) and the need for increased investment in pilot programs, research, and federal grants. Paul Miller, Legislative Counsel to The Transportation Alliance, emphasized that Congress should be deliberate in policy decisions, but “where we do see Congress having an immediate role is with the federal contracts awarded to for-hire transportation companies. The General Services Administration (GSA) is in the process of putting together a Request for Proposal (RFP), which is looking to outsource some of the Federal governments transportation needs to TNCs.” Miller, along with Chairman DeFazio, expressed concerns regarding the currently lax background check process at Uber and Lyft, and that fingerprint-based background checks should be implemented, especially if they were to be receiving a federal transportation contract.

Witnesses:

Member Panel:

 

  • The Honorable Christopher H. Smith, A Representative in Congress, From the 4th District of New Jersey

 

  • The Honorable Thomas R. Suozzi, A Representative in Congress, From the 3rd District of New York

 

Panel 1:

 

  • The Honorable Karen Freeman-Wilson, Mayor, City of Gary, Indiana, President, National League of Cities

 

  • Jon W. Martz, Director, Government and Public Affairs, Commute with Enterprise

 

  • Paul Miller, Legislative Counsel, The Transportation Alliance

 

  • Larry Willis, President, Transportation Trade Department, AFL-CIO

 

To view the hearing in its entirety, click here.

NHTSA Opens Rulemaking on Camera Based Rear Visibility Systems

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is taking public comment on amending Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS) No. 111, “Rear Visibility”. Currently, FMVSS No. 111, requires that vehicles have rearview mirrors. The notice of proposed rulemaking (NRPM) comes after requests from manufacturers to install “camera monitor system” (CMS) as an alternative to inside and outside rearview mirrors.

To read the NRPM and submit a comment, click here.

California Bill Advances to Governors Desk

The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), Assembly Bill (AB) 375, was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in 2018. AB 375 goes into effect January 1, 2020 and allows consumers the right to know what data is being collected on them, if it is being sold and to whom, and the right to opt-out.

California AB 1146, is an amendment to the CCPA, that exempts vehicle information retained or shared for purposes of a warranty or recall-related vehicle repair. AB 1146 was introduced by Assemblyman Marc Berman (D-24) on February 21, 2019. The bill was amended by the State Senate Judiciary Committee to more clearly define vehicle recalls. AB 1146 was sent to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk for signature.

To read more about AB 1146, click here.

U.S. House Committee Holds Hearing on Sustainability within Transportation Sector

The U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Energy held a hearing on “The Next Mile: Technology Pathways to Accelerate Sustainability Within the Transportation Sector.” In his opening statement, Chairman Connor Lamb (D-PA) emphasizes that “transportation is vital to our everyday lives,” and the purpose of the hearing is to discuss how to “be smarter about our investments in technologies that can help reduce emissions in this sector.” Ranking Member Randy Weber’s (R-TX) opening statement further emphasizes the need for a conversation about sustainable transportation and H.R. 2170, the Vehicle Innovation Act of 2019, which would provide additional funding for Department of Energy vehicle research activity and research to reduce or eliminate vehicle emissions or petroleum usage.

Witnesses, in testimonies, highlighted the importance of transforming our forms of mobility into affordable, and energy efficient options, such as electric vehicles and optimizing alternative fuel options. Witnesses also discussed how the U.S. can better utilize our energy resources to benefit our national security, climate change, and increase the efficiency of American lives and that these start with upgrading our modes of transportation.

Witnesses:

  • Ann M. Schlenker, Director, Center for Transportation Research, Argonne National Laboratory
  • James Chen, Vice President of Public Policy, Rivian Automotive LLC
  • Brooke Coleman, Executive Director, Advanced Biofuels Business Council
  • Claus Daniel, Director, Sustainable Transportation Program, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Tim Cortes, Vice President of Hydrogen Energy Systems, Plug Power Inc.

To view the hearing in its entirety, click here.

US DOL Announces Update to Overtime Rule

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) “announced a final rule to make 1.3 million Americans eligible for overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).” The final rule updates overtime regulations, and will go into effect January 1, 2020.

To view the updated final rule, click here.

To view the entire news release, click here.

 

NHTSA Submits NPRM On Sound Minimum Requirements for Hybrid and EV’s

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced a Notice of proposed rule making (NPRM) asking the public for comments on amending the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) No. 141, Minimum Sound Requirements for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles, to allow manufacturers of hybrid and electric vehicles (HEVs) to install a number of driver-selectable pedestrian alert sounds in each HEV they manufacture.

To view and submit comments on the NPRM, click here.

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