Hands-Free Cell Bill Falls Victim to Politics

May 22, 2018 08:38 PM

The authors of a hands-free cell phone bill in the Minnesota House were nearly certain 2018 would be the year the state would restrict the use of hand-held phones while driving.

"This bill addresses the biggest single public safety issue that's facing us on our roads today," Rep. Mark Uglem, R-Champlin said at a House Ways and Means Committee meeting in early May.


"I can't think of a bill that has had this degree of bipartisan support," said co-author Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, at the same meeting.

RELATED: Families of Distracted Driving Victims Express Anger at Legislative Leaders

Less than an hour later the bill passed the Ways and Means Committee on a voice vote with just one lawmaker dissenting. It was supposed to be the last stop before heading to the House floor, where there appeared to be overwhelming support for the bill.

But on May 15, Uglem was notified by House leadership that the bill would not get a vote on the floor.

"It's all politics," Uglem said. "I think we failed Minnesotans to act on hands-free."

RELATED: Author: Hands-Free Bill Will Not Get Vote in House

An attempt by Hornstein to declare an "urgency" and bring the issue up on the floor also failed.

On Monday, one day after the session ended, Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt said it just wasn't the right time.

"I think that issue is growing in grassroots support," Daudt told reporters at a post-session news conference. "I think it will eventually happen. This year it seemed very divided amongst legislators."

Supporters of the bill will bring it back in 2019, although Uglem won't be among them. He's retiring from the legislature.

RELATED: Hands-Free Bill Passes Committee, Moves to House Floor for Vote




Tom Hauser

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