This might seem like a lunatic fringe element but how about we not criminalize talking on a cell phone while driving, but increase the penalties for being involved in an accident while using the phone. I have for years conducted business while driving by using the phone, of course I have a bluetooth headset and thus I'm not distracted, and I haven't had any accidents. The problem with this mentality is your trying to criminalize something which not everyone has a problem with. Punish the offenders who are distracted and causing accidents and not those who have NOT caused any accidents.
Norr targets cell phone usage
Teens shouldn't talk on the phone while driving, he says.
Several Missouri lawmakers want to rein in the use of a cell phone to converse or send text messages while driving during the 2009 legislative session.
Two bills introduced this month for the upcoming session tackle the problem. One seeks a ban from talking on a cell phone while driving altogether. The other would require a person to have a hands-free listening device, like a headset or Bluetooth wireless earpiece.
Rep. Charlie Norr, D-Springfield, is not convinced either bill could pass, but he wants to pursue legislation this year to at least ban teenagers from driving while talking on the phone.
"I guess there's a better chance of passing that than infringing on the rights of adults," Norr said of his proposal. "Driving is a full-time job. You have to pay attention every second."
Entering his second term in the House, Norr and the Democrats remain in the minority, which means the chances of getting his own legislation passed are slim. But with Democrat Jay Nixon in the governor's office, Norr is hopeful lawmakers will address the growing number of Missourians living without health insurance.
"We need to work on that to get people access to medical care," he said.
Republicans hold a 89-74 majority in the House.
Norr, Nixon and other Democrats view increasing the state's contribution toward Medicaid as an economic development tool. For every dollar the state spends on the entitlement program, the federal government matches it with $1.62, officials say.
"Why wouldn't we do that?" Norr asked.
Norr said an investment in Medicaid would create health care sector jobs and new tax revenues for the state, which officials say faces a projected $342 million mid-year budget deficit and possibly larger shortfalls in 2010.
At a minimum, Norr said, policymakers need to reform the amount of money the Medicaid system requires users to spend before qualifying for taxpayer-paid benefits. Norr said the amounts are often too burdensome for the working poor and disabled and should be lowered.
Like others in his party, Norr wants to re-examine tax credits going to subsidize the operations of large corporations and the ethanol industry.
Norr also has signed on as a co-sponsor of Springfield Rep. Sara Lampe's House Bill 71, which would require payday loan lenders to notify borrowers of their balance due every three months.