Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Editorial: Legislature forfeits legislation for an expectation of failure

As we wrote last week, our government of the people, by the people and for the people is failing, and not just nationally or in regard to the current government shutdown. Texas, we also have a problem.

On April 18, the Texas House passed HB 63, which makes texting and driving a finable offense, with a 97 to 45 vote. With 68 percent of the House on board, it’s surprising that the bill died before ever making it to the Senate floor.

The Senate Transportation Committee chairman, Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, refused to take the bill to a vote. “It’s a lot of pain to put the members through for a likely veto. If it is not going to pass in the Governor’s Mansion, why do we need to go through this?” explained Nichols to the Amarillo Globe-News.

Nichols’ belief that the bill would be vetoed by Gov. Rick Perry isn’t without reason. Perry vetoed a similar bill last session, and Lucy Nashed, an aide to Perry, concluded the same could be expected this time around.

“Gov. Perry continues to believe texting while driving is reckless and irresponsible, and as noted last session, current law already prohibits drivers under the age of 18 from texting or using a cell phone while driving,” stated Nashed to the Austin American-Statesman. “The key to dissuading drivers from texting while driving is information and education, not government micromanagement.”

According to the Department of Transportation, texting takes a driver’s eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds when travelling at 55 mph, equivalent to driving the length of a football field unaware.

A recent Survey USA/KXAN poll shows that 85 percent of Texans surveyed believe that texting and driving should be illegal.

Additionally, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that from 2010 to 2011 the percentage of drivers manipulating an electronic device while driving rose by almost 50 percent.

For an issue that isn’t going away anytime soon, the Senate should at least be willing to take a vote on a bill that comes with some promise of dissuading texting and driving, and Perry should re-think his stance on the subject in light of overall public support for bills similar to HB 63.

There’s a reason an anti texting and driving bill has been presented in this and last year’s legislative sessions, and more so, there’s a reason almost 70 percent of House representatives voted for it. The House is accepted as a representation of the Texas people, and thus 68 percent were voicing a popular acceptance of the bill for their constituents.

Texas is one of 11 states that hasn’t banned texting while driving for adults over the age of 18. Texas only bans cell phone use in school zones.

In San Antonio, however, under a city ordinance passed in 2010, drivers have racked up 2,100 citations for texting and driving. San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro recently joined the Mayors Against Texting While Driving (MATWD) campaign, which calls for pledges against texting and driving.

With the presence of campaigns from MATWD to One Text or Call Could Wreck It All, we should all take a good look at the use of phones while driving and remind our government that it represents the people.

Since the majority of Texans support anti-texting and driving legislation, Perry should consider that making texting while driving illegal is more than “government micromanagement.” Also, he should note the problem of government mismanagement: a situation in which the Senate refuses to go to a vote because of a veto-threat. Shouldn’t that be considered a type of government shutdown?

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