Hands-free cell phone bill looks dead for this year

Legislation requiring Minnesota drivers to only use hand-free cell phones appears hung up for the session.

The chief House author of the bill, Rep. Mark Uglem, R-Champlin, said House leaders told him that his bill won’t get a vote in the closing days of the 2018 session.

The broadly-supported bill cleared its final committee last week and was poised for a floor vote. Uglem, who is not seeking reelection in November, said he’s disappointed that the vote won’t happen.

“I’m very concerned for all the people that have been affected by distracted driving, all the people that have been killed and maimed on the highways,” Uglem said. “I guess I just don’t understand why something as important as this will not move through the process when I’ve cleared every committee that I’ve had to.”

The bill also stalled recently in the Senate.

Uglem said he did not plan to offer the proposal as an amendment to another House bill. But he didn’t rule it out.

“Some of my colleagues may have different plans,” he said.

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton said he too was disappointed that bill was stopped. Talking to reporters, Dayton suggested that special interests could be behind the decision.

“Every time one of these common sense things, that’s clearly in the public interest, doesn’t go anywhere, I wonder whose money is behind that, and I don’t know in this case,” Dayton said.

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