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Gazelka: Hands-free bill not moving this year

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The Republican majority leader of the Minnesota Senate says he does not expect a hands-free cellphone requirement for drivers to become law this year.

Paul Gazelka was asked about the legislation Monday afternoon on the Senate floor by its author Sen. Jim Carlson, DFL-Eagan.

"We have had several hearings on this bill in both bodies, and in each of those hearings it has passed overwhelmingly with a voice vote and no opposition," Carlson said. "I'm wondering if the majority leader can give me a little clarity on either when or why this bill would be entertained for a floor vote?"

Carlson noted that Gazelka had conducted an informal poll on Facebook, and more than 80 percent of those who responded favored the bill.

Gazelka said the proposal needs more work, and that there are other big bills which still need to be finished.

"To me it reminds me something of like Sunday liquor where frankly it took a number of years and over time it just kept growing to a point where we did something, " he said. "So, Senator Carlson I don't expect it to move yet this year."

Gazelka listed taxes, a bonding bill, elder care and opioid abuse prevention as among the issues that still need to be resolved in the remaining two weeks of the session.

In an interview earlier Monday, he said there were other approaches to distracted driving and said not everyone agreed with the hands-free mandate.

"We all acknowledge it's a problem, but the solution is what we haven't completely agreed on yet."

Supporters of the hands-free requirement include family members of people who have been killed by distracted drivers. They say the state must take action before more people die.