Hands-free driving bill going 'nowhere' at Minnesota Capitol

A bill requiring hands-free cell phone use in your car appears to be going "nowhere" at the Capitol this session.

House leaders are deciding not to have a floor vote on the bill after dozens of families pleaded for lawmakers to help save lives from distracted driving crashes.

It sounded like it was gaining votes, but house leaders felt it wasn’t gaining enough. It was not going to get a vote in the senate, and with time winding down, a house vote was not scheduled.

Now, advocates and families are beyond disappointed; they’re angry.

Vijay Dixit pressed Senator Paul Gazalka for a vote last week. He didn’t get one in the Senate, and today he learned he won’t get one in the house either.

“I’m just finding it so, so hurtful… do they have any heart?” Dixit asked.  

The bill’s chief sponsor, Rep. Mark Uglem, R-Champlin, is floored.

“To me, it’s a travesty. It’s a travesty that we, as elected representatives, are not acting when we have the single biggest public safety issue on our roads today,” he said.

State law already bans texting and driving. This new bill would take it a step further by requiring all phone calls.

Families pleaded with lawmakers after having lost loved ones to distracted drivers. 

“I would say disturbing is a better word in my heart because what other priority would these leaders have chosen that is more important than this?” Dixit asked.

For now, taxes and spending are filling the closing days of the legislature, with advocates promising to return next year.

“Well, my message is don’t give up. But my message is also that I hope nothing else happens to your loved ones, because it’s gonna,” Rep. Uglem said.

There’s already talk of next year, but this bill in the House will have to find a new sponsor, and Rep. Uglem is retiring and not running for re-election in the fall.