Thursday, April 8, 2010

Three more texting bans. Sharon Montgomery's reports on Bexley Public Radio.

Columbus City Council passed their primary offense ordinance Monday April 5: 6 yes, 1 absent. The Columbus suburb of New Albany passed theirs Tuesday evening April 6: 4 yes, 3 absent.

The New Albany sponsor listened to me with an open mind last month when I gave three reasons why their secondary offense needed to be a primary offense. One of the reasons was for getting it on the citation and crash report form so we can start counting violations and crashes, like we do with DUI. The sponsor changed it to a primary offense.

The Cleveland suburb of South Euclid's secondary offense (drivers can't talk on a hand-held phone, text, or use a computer) law went into effect Thursday April 1. The ordinance was sponsored by David Miller, South Euclid council president.

Some Central Ohio Trauma System members and I spoke again at Columbus. COTS apparently has been working behind the scenes with the City of Columbus. I'm hoping they're willing to coordinate efforts at the state level and with the growing interest in some of the high schools to get involved. I see a great place for them in education campaigns.

State Representative Nancy Garland (one of the two primary sponsors of HB 415 that passed the House 86-12 last Wednesday March 31 and the sponsor who has vigorously promoted the bill) attended the Columbus city council meeting, also.

I spoke again at New Albany and Rep. Garland also spoke.

Neither the Columbus nor New Albany ordinance provides a grace period for warnings. Each ordinance takes effect in about a month.

Rep. Garland is, predictably, handling this very skillfully. Obviously part of promoting her bill is being positive so she's not as free as I am to say some senators oppose this so strongly it's not likely HB 415 or SB 164 will get through the Senate. What Garland is saying is we don't know yet what the Senate will do with either bill so she advises local governments to do what they feel they need to do to make their communities safe.

Representative Garland and AAA will be strategizing soon. I told her Tuesday April 6 that some of the supporters I correspond with are just waiting for the word to start applying some pressure on the Senate committee.

I'm mostly overjoyed and relieved by these new laws, but I'm a little nervous about Columbus. The Columbus safety department seemed to be strongly behind this legislation: The safety director, assistant safety director, and the fire department have been vocal supporters; but today's newspaper story reported Police Chief Distelzweig saying things like "officers will use discretion" and, "It boils down to priorities." I hope those comments don't mean what they sound like. We'll see.

The snowball effect is already starting. Gahanna city council office got an e-mail today from a resident who hopes Gahanna will join Columbus. Gahanna high school students are ready to get involved. After I've talked more with them tomorrow and April 14, I'll report what they want to do. I don't want to jump the gun and report wrong or steal their thunder.

The General Assembly schedule online says sessions resume next week. Today's Senate Journal says the next session is Thursday. I think that session will not be a voting session and I don't think they'll do any committee assignments until next week. As soon as HB 415 gets assigned to a Senate committee, I'll let supporters know, and give them contact information for the chair.


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Design is copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Bexley Public Radio Foundation. Text is copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Sharon Montgomery.

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