Miss. texting law ambushed, killed

A last-minute legislative maneuver derailed a texting & driving ban headed for the desk of Mississippi governor, who had planned to sign it.

Rep. Bill DennyAs a result, Mississippi will remain one of the few states without a complete ban on text messaging while behind the wheel.

Both houses of the Legislature approved texting & driving measures. A conference committee resolved differences over the amount of fines to be paid by offenders, and the House and Senate approved the legislation April 1. It was headed to the governor, who said he looked forward to signing the distracted driving legislation “in hopes of protecting lives on Mississippi roadways.”

State Rep. Bill Denny (pictured, left), however, said he didn’t understand that the measure applied to all drivers. He called for a reconsideration, which killed the bill for the year.

Sponsors and safety advocates reacted with anger to Denny’s tactics.

Lawmakers had said “public pressure” was building on the Legislature to do something about texting. The House has long been considered resistant to distracted driving legislation, with critics calling the House Judiciary Committee (A&B) a “graveyard” for texting bills.

State Rep. Tom Miles, who heads the Transportation Committee, told a reporter that “it’s ridiculous for one person to kill a bill that affects the lives of children and people across the state.”

Denny is a Republican from Jackson.

Under the compromise, the fine for texting & driving in Mississippi would have been $25. Beginning July 1, 2015, the fine would have been $100.

The situation reverse-mirrors recent events in South Dakota, where a texting & driving measure was left for dead by a conference committee but suddenly revived by a second panel and sent to a receptive governor.

The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety group lists Mississippi as one of the worst in the nation for vehicle laws.

Comments

  1. PJ Treffner says:

    This is incredible. It will be interesting to see an analysis of Mississippi’s crash stats compared to other states and the prevalence of cell phones in those crashes. That state is an embarrassment to the USA. So are all the others that are playing with lives by not banning texting while driving. Just totally unbelievable. But true; sigh.

  2. As a lifelong resident of MS I’m so infuriated. You can bet I’ll let this guy and any other know what I think about it. This is one of a list of reasons I’ve been thinking of moving out of the state. How many freakin things do you want your state to LAST at.

  3. Everyone in MS needs to be contacting these guys:
    Contact Information:
    Capitol:
    Room: 400-D
    P. O. Box 1018
    Jackson, MS 39215
    (601)359-3369

    Home:
    P. O. Box 12185
    Jackson, MS 39236
    (601)956-6807 (H)
    (601)956-6807 (W)

    Email:
    bdenny@house.ms.gov

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