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

March 19, 2019 12:28 PM

Hands-free cellphone bills are moving forward at the Minnesota Capitol, after years of heated debate.

The House passed a bill late Monday night that would ban the handheld use of cellphones while driving. Phone calls and messaging could only be done with hands-free devices or voice-activated apps.

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Similar bills have failed over the past few years, never making it to the House floor. But now the legislation goes on to the Senate.

RELATED: Minnesota House backs hands-free cellphone rule for driving

"We have to pay attention to what we're doing because we continue to hurt and kill people on the roads," said Sen. David Osmek, the driving force behind one of the related bills in the Senate.

He hopes to create tougher penalties for people who break the rules, boosting fines and jail time.

"My bill says if you create bodily harm or death as a result of putting your hand up with your cellphone, you're going to be held accountable," Osmek said. "You're going to be treated as a drunk driver would be."

Osmek is confident at least one of the bills could get to the Senate floor by next week.

The governor's office confirmed to 5 EYEWITNESS News that Gov. Tim Walz supports the hands-free legislation and plans to eventually sign it into law.

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Alex Jokich

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

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