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NCHRP 20-102(07) Autonomous Vehicle Action Plan â A Roadmap for States 51 Overcoming Barriers â Engaging Legislators to Advance ADS-Equipped Vehicle Legislation 6.1 Introduction to Legislative Outreach Politics is the art of the possible. It is extremely unlikely that even the best, most clearly articulated public policy will be fully realized by legislative action. Rather, some portion of that policy will become law. It is important for state senior leaders to take a careful, considered approach to the legislative process and its political realities to maximize positive results and minimize any barriers. The Importance of Legislative Outreach How many times have legislators asked state officials, âwhat are other states doing?â It is a perennial question and especially pertinent when issues or key legislative changes are nationwide in scope. State administrators need to be ready to answer this question. It is also likely that legislative staff will be engaged in answering this question for their legislative members. Many use the National Council of State Legislators (NCSL) as a resource and source of reference. NCSL conducts policy research in a variety of areas including transportation. They also help draft bills and provide extensive background on bills that have been enacted or are under consideration. It is important to take the first step in preparing for discussions about legislation needed to accommodate C/ADSs by doing your homework and studying an overview of legislation being considered in other states, especially neighboring states. The presentation that accompanies this action plan is a good starting point (Appendix 1). The standalone document titled State Legal and Regulatory Audit: Identification of Laws and Regulations Potentially Requiring Modification (Wagner et al., 2018) provides a more thorough overview of the types of laws that are being changed across the nation and the focus of those laws. While this is a good starting point, keep in mind that legislation is dynamic and changes constantly each legislative session, and it is also important to regularly check for current legislation. 6.2 The Outreach Process Know the Ask and Prepare in Advance Prior to meeting with your legislature, there are many other considerations that need to be thought through. Assuming that the path has been cleared internally, (Governorâs Office and/or senior agency leadership), you should determine exactly what legislative assistance is necessary. These needs vary by
NCHRP 20-102(07) Autonomous Vehicle Action Plan â A Roadmap for States 52 state and by each stateâs current C/ADS involvement. For example, a basic first step âaskâ may be to officially legislate a C/ADS steering committee or advisory committee. Some states are well beyond that point and ready to recommend legislative changes that will facilitate testing or deployment. Know what you want before you meet. Ideally, these first meetings or initial âasksâ should be with legislative leadership. Several overarching considerations should be prioritized outside of the specific legal changes. These overarching considerations (presented below) should be addressed internally before any legislative engagement. Overarching Considerations 1. Determine your stateâs goals and objectives for C/ADS deployment. Does your agency leadership want your stateâs role in C/ADS testing and/or deployment to be research based, driven by economic development, supportive of industry goals? Does your state want to advance law changes quickly? Is legislation necessary or can a regulatory or policy direction be considered? What is the scope and timeline of needed legislative changes? Does your state want to focus on platooning or full deployment regardless of vehicle type? What is needed not just from the DMV side of the business, but also from law enforcement and transportation? All of these questions should be considered in determining your agencyâs goals so that they can be communicated to legislative leaders. We can look to Utah, Virginia, and Pennsylvania for good examples of embracing the overarching priority of determining state goals and objectives. For example, Virginia recently developed its vision for advancing C/ADSs in the state: âTo create a strategic policy framework for transitioning autonomous vehicles into the Virginia transportation network, and associated Autonomous Vehicle program, by which the Office of the Secretary can position Virginia to be a national leader in the rapidly advancing field of self-driving, connected mobilityâ (Day, 2017). Pennsylvania also recently outlined its C/ADS statewide strategic plan, which calls for expanding existing research, using actionable information, and developing near-term and long-term actions in nine areas ranging from driver licensing and motor vehicles to workforce requirements (Myers, 2017). 2. Be prepared to outline what an organized Stakeholder or Advisory Committee would look like. As discussed in Chapter 5, states should convene a task force of relevant governmental entities that analyzes its stateâs laws against the legal recommendations identified in Chapter 2, create a list of needed legal and regulatory changes, elicit feedback from relevant stakeholders and the public, revise, and then ultimately enact the needed changes. Each state has different internal structures and stakeholders, so the process will vary across states. 3. Determine your agencyâs direction regarding federal and state preemption. Guide the legislative discussion on what the agency expects regarding the federal role and those areas where federal preemption is expected, like FMVSS, and determine your agencyâs recommendation regarding state preemption over local authority. The most recent NHTSA federal guidance, A Vision for
NCHRP 20-102(07) Autonomous Vehicle Action Plan â A Roadmap for States 53 Safety (NHTSA, 2017), is a good tool to highlight areas where NHTSA expects to be involved and areas retained by states. Similarly, strategic consideration should be given to the amount of local variation states will allow regarding level 4â5 ADS-equipped vehicle deployment at the local level. This is especially relevant for A-MaaS deployment and the most recent introduction of ride share services. State preemption provisions and local control are an important factor as states consider this overarching priority. When local ordinances and regulations are layered into level 4â5 ADS-equipped vehicle deployment law and regulation modifications, the situation becomes complex, especially for OEMs and technology companies. These types of strategic considerations need to be made early in the audit process, as do incorporated statute modification provisions for any statutes governing federal preemption or local restrictions. 4. Highlight the importance of a legal audit and outline your agencyâs plans. In early discussions with the legislature, you should have a plan to complete a legal or vehicle code audit. This proactive approach will help guide needed legislative change. Identify the Right Agency Team Ideally, your policy will be advanced by a team consisting of a legislative process expert, the legislative liaison, a subject matter expert, and a senior level policy maker or administrator. It may be tempting for politically experienced subject matter experts to proceed without the legislative liaison but this is not advisable. There are usually a set of complex political issues and relationships having little, if nothing, to do with new C/ADSs legislation needs, which can dramatically affect legislative outcomes. The legislative liaison can identify and help manage these issues, allowing the subject matter expert to focus on the policy. Given the breadth and complexity of issues included C/ADSs, it may be necessary to include more than one, or even a team, of subject matter experts. If so, it is still advisable to designate a senior-level individual as the primary point of contact, as legislators may think it is more appropriate to deal with a senior-level representative. Where to Start Ideally, the process of developing a C/ADS policy will have included identifying key legislative leaders. If so, these legislators should be your initial points of contact. These individuals may or may not be the chair or chairs of the appropriate legislative committees, but will still be your initial contacts. Committees are, of course, the engine rooms of legislatures, so the chair of the appropriate committee has significant power in the legislative process. Without their assent and active participation, it will be difficult to obtain the necessary policy support. Once again, given the breadth and complexity of C/ADS issues, it may be necessary to approach more than one committee, as bills may be referred to multiple committees. However, most bills fall under the jurisdiction of one committee, and identifying the appropriate committee in this iteration is critical. Again, the advice of a seasoned, competent legislative liaison is vital to a successful strategy in this regard.
NCHRP 20-102(07) Autonomous Vehicle Action Plan â A Roadmap for States 54 The broader legislative leadership will eventually decide if and when a legislative committeeâs work will be taken up by the entire body. Accordingly, it is also necessary to begin to build a broader foundation of legislative support for any proposed legislative changes. The legislative liaison and committee chairs are invaluable in this process. Legislative staff is, of course, critical to the process. Senior committee and leadership staff are arguably second in importance only to their principals. What to Present A well-developed, clearly articulated public policy addressing C/ADS is vital in the legislative approach. This public policy should be developed in a coordinated, collaborative, and comprehensive process. It is often advisable to involve external stakeholders as well, but it is imperative that all internal parties reach consensus around a clear policy direction. Legislative outreach is not the time to attempt to resolve internal disputes or generate top level buy-in or enthusiasm for legislative change. Proceeding without these firm underpinnings can cause a significant setback. Assuming the strong foundation of a well-developed, clearly articulated public policy, there are several topics that will be of interest to legislators as noted earlier. âWhy must this be done now,â is often the first question asked. Legislators will also have other questions, such as what other states are doing; what the appropriate federal, state, and local rules are; what the cost will be; who will pay; and what the biggest challenges are. It is important to have anticipated as many of these and any other relevant questions as possible and to have answers at hand. If something unexpected is asked, it is important to have a process in place to quickly identify and provide an answer. Conversely, it is equally important that the DMV or DOT clearly express and support their priorities as noted earlier. What are their mission and goals? Do they want to lead or follow, from a national perspective? What are their safety concerns? Is this an important economic development or competitiveness issue? What kind of legislative and regulatory framework do they prefer â prescriptive or flexible? And finally, what is the specific action requested. This forms a good basis for a legislative action paper. The best approach to ensuring that all of these issues and other vital topics are covered is to have a comprehensive set of talking points developed at the outset, and to amend and supplement these points as necessary throughout the legislative process. Specific short-, mid- and long-term legislative priorities are identified (in Chapter 3), but these specific priorities must be advanced within the context of the broader discussion above. Knowing When to Present Some legislative outreach may have occurred during the policy formation process. The main body of legislative effort should occur in the year or so prior to the date of desired legislative action. As a practical matter, it may be necessary and even desirable to do most of the outreach when the legislature is in recess or out of session. Session time may be too busy and too late to get much done.
NCHRP 20-102(07) Autonomous Vehicle Action Plan â A Roadmap for States 55 Final Thoughts There remain many uncertainties regarding C/ADS market entry and penetration, but one thing is clear: states, and especially state DMVs, will be tasked with addressing the uncertainties in law and regulation. The legislative process and legislative involvement is expected to be key in advancing C/ADS deployment successfully.