OTHER OPINION: Texans will pay the painful price for politics

By Amarillo Globe News

Can’t blame this one on Rick Perry. Too bad motorists in Texas will pay the price. For the second time since 2011, a state law prohibiting texting while driving ran out of gas in Austin – another piece of legislation supporting public safety that was, unfortunately, trumped by politics.
In 2011, the governor vetoed a similar bill pushed by state Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland. This time, the governor never got the chance to possibly drop another veto on a texting-while-driving bill championed by Craddick.
The bill – House Bill 63 (relating to the creation of an offense for use of a hand-held device for text-based communication while operating a motor vehicle) – collected dust in the Senate Transportation Committee and never got a vote.
HB 63 cruised through the House, 97-45, with the Texas Panhandle contingent (state GOP Reps. John Smithee of Amarillo, Four Price of Amarillo and Ken King of Canadian) supporting the bill.
Considering Perry’s veto in 2011, HB 63 had a good chance of making it through the Senate once again, but that’s a moot point now.
If there is a positive about HB 63’s demise, it is that Amarillo’s more stringent ordinance against using a hand-held device while driving will remain. Had HB 63 made it through the Legislature and slipped past the governor’s desk unscathed, the days were numbered for Amarillo’s ordinance.
While we supported Amarillo’s ordinance that reinforces public safety (and will continue to do so), it is unfortunate the state of Texas cannot, or will not, recognize the dangers of the most prevalent form of distracted driving – cellphone use/texting while driving.
This should be common-sense legislation that, for whatever reason, cannot find its way through the Legislature in Texas.
Fortunately, as far as Amarillo is concerned, there is an alternative that recognizes public safety.
Amarillo Globe News