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Hands-free bill not a done deal yet in Minnesota Senate

March 20, 2019 06:45 PM

Supporters of bills to require only hands-free use of cellphones while driving started the Minnesota Legislative session with a great deal of optimism the new law would pass early in the session. Two months later the legislation still isn't a done deal.

"We know this bill saves lives," said Rep. Frank Hornstein, (DFL-Minneapolis), the House author of a hands-free bill that passed with broad bipartisan support on Monday.

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There's a similar bill in the Senate authored by Republican Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson).

"We are determined to move forward with this hands-free legislation this year," Newman said earlier this session. "I think it has come to be a universal danger to us on the highways."


More from KSTP:

Minnesota House backs hands-free cellphone rule for driving

Hands-free cellphone bills advancing at legislature after years of debate


However, Newman's bill has some competition from a bill authored by fellow Republican Dave Osmek. His bill would still allow talking on your phone with your hands, but calls for harsh new penalties if you cause an accident resulting in great bodily injury or death.

"If you are using your cell phone in the following manner and you get into an accident and you create bodily harm or injury, you're going to be treated like a drunk driver," Osmek said at a hearing Wednesday morning. "It means you're going to jail."

The bill calls for up to 10 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine.

"These devices are becoming very problematic in our lives," Osmek says.  "It's time to put them down."

Osmek says some rural Republicans and Democrats are uneasy about the hands-free ban and might prefer his bill. Both bills could be heard on the Senate floor next week.

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Tom Hauser

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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