Barry Shiller, our resident legislation expert, provided us with an update on the anti-texting bill (S204A) in advance of last night’s advocacy meeting. For those who were not able to attend, here are some of the highlights from Barry:
If the Assembly reconvenes for 2 days in late October, I have been advocating passage of S204A (sponsor: Senator Sue Sosnowski) which defines, and then prohibits, text-messaging while driving. It calls for fines, $50 first offense, then $75, then $100. It exempts emergency and law enforcement personnel from this act, and does not prohibit text messaging while the car is parked, standing, or removed from the flow of traffic.
The bill passed the Senate unanimously on May 7 with support from RIDOT, AAA, the insurance industry, and me representing [the bicycling community, through] GARI. It was assigned to the House Corporations Committee (Chair: Brian P Kennedy) which however never gave it a hearing (usually the Speaker’s call) at the point they recessed in late June.
Since then I have contacted Majority Leader Gordon Fox and Representative Brian Kennedy about this issue, noting related House bills (sponsored by Kilmartin, McNamara, or Giannini) also held in that Committee, thus never getting to the Senate. Both actually replied indicating support.
Barry is now requesting that anyone who would like to see this bill heard contact your local representative and ask them to help ensure the bill is passed into legislation. You can find your representatives phone number(s) and e-mail by searching for your representatives on the voter information site. After entering your information, look for the General Assembly entries. While e-mail certainly works, representatives are often flooded with e-mail and a phone call will stand out more.