AUTONOMOUS: Shots of a Walmart driverless truck from film shown in committee today.

Legislative committee action this morning:

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DRINKS: In a Senate committee, approval was given to two bills to expand legal drinking. HB 1228 will allow establishment of “entertainment zones” around private clubs in dry counties, with city council approval. Traditional opponents to alcohol expansion said dry county voters shouldn’t be overridden by allowing drinking in areas contiguous to private clubs. The same committee approved a bill to allow restaurant private club permits in state parks with approval of quorum courts.

DRIVERLESS TRUCKS: The House Transportation Committee approved legislation to convert from a pilot program to full authority the use of autonomous trucks in Arkansas under regulation of the Arkansas Highway Commission. Walmart has been operating a pilot program with three trucks since 2019. They do deliveries of customer orders assembled at distribution centers to stores. The trucks have covered 84,000 miles on 4,300 trips without an accident, the committee was told. The trucks currently have a “safety” driver who doesn’t operate the truck. A Walmart spokesman said experiments of trucks with no person aboard likely will occur this year.

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