An odd but potentially productive legislative coalition wants to ban texting while driving.
Boise Democratic state Sen. Les Bock is taking another run at the texting ban; a similar bill stalled earlier this year. He has some key allies: Senate Transportation Committee Chairman John McGee, R-Caldwell; and House Transportation Chairwoman JoAn Wood, R-Rigby.
Wood's support, touted by Idaho Democrats last week, isn't just laudable. It's shocking. Her history on safe-driving legislation, frankly, has been awful.
In 2007, Wood blocked a bill, passed by the Senate, which would have required the use of safety seats for children under 6.
Wood has repeatedly used her prerogative as committee chair to scuttle bills to increase Idaho's seat-belt fine. Idaho's fine is a measly $10 (and no state has a lower fine). Failure to buckle up also only a secondary offense; in other words, a police officer cannot pull over a car just for a seat-belt violation. Consequently, and not surprisingly, Idaho's seat-belt use, 76.9 percent in 2008, lags well below the national average of 83 percent.
Wood's stubbornness on the seat-belt issue has been costly, since the state could receive additional federal highway funding if more Idahoans buckled up.
While some tech-challenged lawmakers may not know much about texting, they do know Wood's record. Having her sign on a to bill banning texting — and a second bill requiring the use of hands-free cell phone devices — could sway some support.