Potential roadblock to sensible legislation to ban texting while driving in Florida

February 23, 2013 

There's trouble ahead for state Sen. Nancy Detert's sensible and overdue legislation to ban texting while driving in Florida, a simple public safety measure to hopefully halt such reckless and irresponsible behavior. To make the bill more palatable and passable, the Venice Republican included exceptions -- such as entering a number to place a call and receiving weather alerts.

A bipartisan group of leading senators support this common sense bill, which is only a secondary offense and thus not one where law enforcement can ticket a motorist solely for this infraction.

But over in the House, an identical measure -- co-sponsored by Detert's fellow Sarasota County Republicans, Reps. Doug Holder of Venice and Ray Pilon of Sarasota -- must pass through three committees.

Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City, sits on two and chairs one, the Economic Affairs Committee. This is the same lawmaker who voted to repeal Florida's red-light camera law by stating, "I'm not for growing government." As if smart public safety means that. His Economic Affairs Committee approved the repeal bill on a 10-8 vote last week.

In stating his opposition to the texting ban, he echoed that rationale: "I don't want to give people one other reason ... to have government on their shoulder."

Patronis also likened the ban to government regulating "getting a French fry out of a bag." That logic defies the imagination.

Thus, the texting ban may never get out of his House committee. Heaven forbid Floridians enjoy sensible government.

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