Final push for 'hands-free' driving bill at Minnesota Capitol

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The debate continues at the Minnesota State Capitol over a bill requiring drivers to put their phones down.

The “hands-free” bill has stalled out in committees, but there is a new push to get the measure approved before the session ends. The bill passed House Ways and Means Committee Thursday morning and is headed to the House floor for a vote. 

The bill would ban using a phone while a vehicle is in traffic. That includes while at stop signs and lights unless it is for an emergency or in a fully hands free mode, meaning on blue-tooth or with a headphone.

“This is bill whose time has come,” Rep. Mark Uglem, the bill’s author, said Thursday. “This is an epidemic because we are addicted to our phones.” 

Families who have lost loved ones to distracted driving crashes packed the Ways and Means Committee hearing, with many of them giving testimony. 

The bill faces a bigger obstacle in the Senate, where it has no hearings scheduled. 

When asked during a floor session earlier this week if it would be heard, Senate majority leader Paul Gazelka said likely not. He said there are too many other issues and not enough agreement on the bill's language.

With 11 days left in the session, supporters are keeping up the pressure to get the bill passed.