Tuesday, March 21, 2023

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Texas lawmakers consider legislation to prevent cities from self-governance, Connecticut considers policy options to alleviate an eviction crisis, and Ohio residents await community water systems.

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Gov. Ron DeSantis breaks his silence on Trump's potential indictment and attacks Manhattan prosecutors, President Biden vetoes his first bill to protect socially conscious retirement investing, and the Supreme Court hears a case on Native American water rights.

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The 41st state has opted into Medicaid which could be a lifeline for rural hospitals in North Carolina, homelessness barely rose in the past two years but the work required to hold the numbers increased, and destruction of the "Sagebrush Sea" from Oregon to Wyoming is putting protection efforts for an itty-bitty bunny on the map.

Iowa Lawmakers Push for Drivers' Hands-Free Cellphone Use

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Thursday, January 26, 2023   

Iowa lawmakers are considering a bill which would dramatically reduce the use of cellphones in vehicles.

Right now, it is illegal in Iowa to send or read text messages while driving, but drivers can use a cellphone for navigation, which often takes more attention than texting. Senate Bill 60 would tighten the rules further, prohibiting drivers from operating a phone if it takes more than a single touch to activate or deactivate it.

Sen. Claire Celsi, D-West Des Moines, said she is personally motivated by the measure after attending the wake of a constituent's 12-year-old child who was killed by a distracted driver.

"It really affected me," Celsi recounted. "The dad just said, 'Please, please, please make this illegal. Please help people like us never to have to go through a loss like this.' So, that's what really spurred me to join onto the bill this year. It's a Republican bill, but I completely support it."

The Iowa Department of Public Safety said drivers who use handheld devices are four times more likely to be in a collision causing injuries than those who are not using their phones. The bill is headed to a Senate committee.

Celsi acknowledged she used to oppose hands-free cell phone measures, because she felt the costs were prohibitive, but she said technology has caught up, and prices have come down.

"You can buy something at Walmart for $20 that can help you go hands free in your car," Celsi pointed out. "I think it really demands now that we reexamine the issue and do something about distracted driving in our state."

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said about half of states prohibit the handheld use of cellphones when driving, and all but Montana prohibit text-messaging while driving.


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