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Bill to Preempt Local Ordinances Banning Use of Handheld Electronic Devices while Driving Dies in House Transportation Committee

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Friday, March 1, 2019

In one of the most dramatic committee hearings this session, the House Transportation and Defense Committee refused to advance an AIC-opposed bill that would preempt city ordinances banning drivers from using handheld electronic devices.

Please thank the following committee members who voted against the motion to send the bill to the floor: Rep. Joe Palmer, R-Meridian (Committee Chair); Rep. Clark Kauffman, R-Filer; Rep. Rick Youngblood, R-Nampa; Rep. Scott Syme, R-Caldwell; Rep. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise; Rep. John Gannon, D-Boise; Rep. Muffy Davis, D-Ketchum; and Rep. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise.

We extend our appreciation to all the city officials who responded to the legislative alert by contacting legislators and writing letters to the committee.  Your help really does make a difference!

House Bill 77 was sponsored by Rep. Chad Christensen, R-Ammon.  The bill’s sponsor argued that the ordinances adopted by cities resulted in a patchwork of different laws that is confusing for drivers. 

AIC Executive Director Jess Harrison testified that AIC opposed the legislation for two reasons: (1) protection of public safety and (2) preemption of local control.   

“The cities that undertook these ordinances did not do so lightly. They did so based on research, data, and information gathered from their local law enforcement.  They held hearings on the ordinances and put together comprehensive communication and education plans.”

“The concept of local control is grounded in a philosophy of government premised on the belief that the individuals and institutions closest to the people are the most knowledgeable about their communities and therefore best suited to making important decisions impacting their communities.  AIC strongly supports this philosophy and believes that House Bill 77 is in direct conflict with these principles.”

At the conclusion of the hearing, three motions were made: (1) to send to the floor with a do pass recommendation, (2) to hold for two weeks to give the sponsor time to make changes, and (3) to hold in committee.  In a dramatic series of very close votes, all three motions failed, leaving the bill dead in committee. 

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