URGENT: Support HB181, Hand-Held Cell Phone Ban — Advocacy Update #8

Update: HB181 was passed by the House. Please help get it through the Senate. A little push may be all we need!

As we approach Crossover on 2/13 (when bills that have passed the House or Senate cross over to the other house) we are left with only one major bill still alive, but it is a very important one to us. HB181, which establishes a charge of Improper Driving for a driver who drives while using a handheld personal communication device causing him to drive in a negligent manner, which does not endanger the life, limb or property of another, originally cleared the House Courts Committee by a 15-3 vote and went on to the House floor. After its first reading on the floor, it was sent back to the Courts committee, where it was re-worked (here’s what it looks like now) and then sent back to the floor by an 11-6 vote.

Close examination shows that Del. Yancey’s HB1525 prohibiting the use of a cell phone in a work zone was added in as well as some other changes that I think actually improved the bill (not always the case when a bill is sent back to a committee). Now we’ll see how the bill fares on the floor Monday and Tuesday prior to crossing over to the Senate which must happen by Wednesday.

Once again, its time for everyone to contact their Delegate. Urge them to support HB181, the Distracted Driving bill, on the House floor.

Once we can get this bill over to the Senate Transportation Committee, we will have to contact Senators Ryan McDougle (Hanover county) and Bill DeSteph (Virginia Beach) asking their support. With an R patron in the person of Del. Chris Collins of Winchester, we have a good chance at getting this bill through the Senate, if we can get it out of the Trans Comm. But first, we have to get out of the House as mentioned above. Contact your delegate first and then be ready for the next step on Monday or Tuesday.

Two bills we were opposing (that would have changed the Smart Scale process for prioritizing projects, possibly to the detriment of Bike & Pedestrian projects) both died this week, as HB59 requiring the use of “Practical Design Methods” (which one VDOT source describes as “trying to legislate the use of common sense”) was PBI’d 5-2 in House Trans SubComm with the only two votes against being two stalwart friends of ours — Betsy Carr & Patrick Hope — while the R’s voted to PBI. I’m not sure everybody understood what this bill was trying to do (including me), but we were happy to see it fail.

The 2nd bill, SB207-Stuart to consider the cost of the project in prioritizing it, was continued until the 2019 session at the request of the Patron. Again, not sure what this bill was trying to do, but happy to get it off the list, which now is really down to HB181, which we would really like to get to the Governor’s desk. Everybody contact their Delegate and let’s get it out of the House!

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