UPDATED: Distracted driving, texting bills get do-not pass recommendations

BISMARCK—A statewide texting while driving ban may not be in North Dakota’s near future.

The Senate Transportation Committee decided Friday that it will tell the full Senate to not support a ban.

Sen. Dave Oehlke, R-Devils Lake, said the penalty of the texting while driving bill is harsh.

House Bill 1195 seeks to ban drivers from using wireless communication devices to compose, read or send electronic messages. This includes checking e-mail, texting, instant messaging and using the Internet.

The penalty for a first offense would be a $100 fine and two points. A third-time offender would have his or her license suspended for a year.

Losing a license for a year after three violations, no matter how long it’s been since the first offense, seems overboard, Oehlke said.

Sen. Dave Nething, R-Jamestown, who supported the bill, said legislators could change the penalty if suggestions were offered.

Sen. Tim Mathern, D-Fargo, also supported the bill.

“I believe this is a problem in our culture that needs to be addressed,” he said.

The committee also won’t recommend a distracted driving bill approved by the House.

House Bill 1190 goes beyond texting while driving and includes any distraction. Like the texting bill, this bill carries a $100 fine. However, drivers would need to be pulled over for another violation – such as weaving in the road – before they could be cited for distracted driving.

The bills will now go before the full Senate for votes.

Peace resolution

Democrats had a news conference on Friday to oppose changes to a peace resolution.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 4015 urges Congress and the president to pursue peace in Iraq and Afghanistan and disengage American combat forces from duty in these countries.

The revised version refers to pursuing victory in Iraq and Afghanistan and supporting troops on duty in the countries.

Mathern said the House Government & Veterans Affairs Committee took the peace resolution and “turned it into a piece of paper to fan the flames of war.”

“It is one thing to vote against a resolution you disagree with. That’s fine in our body. But to make it into its opposite is a serious misuse of legislative power,” he said.

Rep. Roscoe Streyle, R-Minot, who proposed the changes, said everyone supports peace.

“I just felt it (the resolution) sent the wrong message of retreat and withdrawal,” he said. “I just didn’t feel it was the state’s job to declare that we must withdraw immediately. I firmly believe we need to stand behind the troops.”

Education Department

The House Constitutional Revision Committee will make its recommendation early next week on the proposal to overhaul the state’s education system.

A subcommittee will suggest a few changes to the bill. One would require legislative approval for the governor’s selection of an Education Department director.

The bill is expected to go to the House floor sometime next week.

2 thoughts on “UPDATED: Distracted driving, texting bills get do-not pass recommendations

  1. i guess that based upon the legislature’s apparent priorities, it is not a surprise that they wouldn’t want to make an attempt, even, to control the texters on our streets and highways. there performance to date this session should make the lion’s share of them subject to recall! in fargo, it is not unusual to see someone breeze right through a red light texting. for whatever reason, 13th avenue south seems to be the place it is most visible. what is life and limb worth to these people- BOTH the texters and the legislators?

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