Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Will dangerous distracted drivers maintain their "right" to continue their terror on the roadways? Say it ain't so! Texting while driving ban could be dead

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.: Texting while driving ban could be dead - Florida Wires - MiamiHerald.com
The Miami Herald reports that a statewide ban on texting while driving could be dead after the Florida House amended the bill Tuesday with only three days left in the legislative session. 

My, how fast things change in Tallahassee. No texting while driving bill passes Fla Senate 36 - 0 on April 16, 2013. Now A change in the House bill changes everything and puts the proposal in jeopardy.This is not the news we wanted to hear. So close and a procedure - in this case an ever so slight change in the bill that makes it non-conforming with the bill passed by the Florida Senate.  A bill needs to be passed in the identical form by both the Florida House and the Florida Senate to move on to the Governor. 

Otherwise, both the House and Senate can claim to support a bill, but regret that it was not the same bill.  Ironic isn't it?  You can be against the bill by voting for it, and an amendment to it, knowing that there may not be time to pass a conforming bill.  This is politically having your cake and eating it too, assuming you are in favor of distracted drivers continuing their terror on the roadways. 

The Miami Herald reports that Miami Lakes Republican, Rep. Jose R. Oliva, was the author of Tuesday's amendment.  He may have said that he wasn't trying to torpedo the bill, but that will probably be the effect. 

From the Herald article: The House discussed the bill (SB 52) and adopted the amendment without voting on the bill. The amendment allows police to use drivers' mobile phone records against them only when texting causes a crash resulting in death or personal injury.

The Senate passed the bill unanimously earlier this month. If the House passes the amended bill, it must return to the Senate for that chamber to approve the new change. The legislative session ends Friday. 
    
Sen. Nancy Detert, the Venice Republican who has pushed for a ban for four years, was watching from the back of the House floor, frowning.

"No one spoke to me about it," she said, walking back to the Senate. "We made the bill as small as we possibly could to try to get it through the House. It's a very simple bill; it should have simply passed."

Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia already have texting-while-driving bans for all drivers.

Efforts to pass a ban stalled for at least four years in the face of House Republican opposition. Conservative members based their concerns on government intrusion into people's lives.

The bill has passed through committees in both chambers this year with only one no vote: Rep. Jimmy Patronis, a Panama City Republican.

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