ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The Florida House approved a bill, 112-2, that would make texting and driving a primary offense in Florida.
Gov. Rick Scott has given it his blessing.
But the only thing stopping it from becoming law is the Florida Senate and Senate President Joe Negron.
And they refuse to hear the bill.
Only four states have weaker distracted driving laws than Florida, where officers cannot stop motorists for texting behind the wheel.
The fine for texting while driving in Florida, a secondary offense, is only $20 - and that's if a driver is caught doing something else dangerous first.
Although every Tampa Bay senator said they support the bill, none have spent the political equity to get the issue on the Senate floor.
House Speaker Richard Corcoran (R-Land O'Lakes), once an opponent of tougher texting laws, said the bill is a priority for his legislative chamber but the Senate isn't making it a priority.
Instead, the Senate discussed these issues during the final week of the 2018 session:
- Designating Florida cracker cattle as the official state heritage cattle breed.
- Increasing fines for the theft of bee colonies.
- Regulations related to notaries public.
- Restricting access to certain public records.
- Lunch (they took a 2.5+ hour recess).
- Awarding a family pass to Legoland Florida to Senate President Pro-Tempore Anitere Flores.
The Senate spent most of Monday debating guns in schools, a top priority for all lawmakers since 17 students and faculty were gunned down in a Parkland school last month. It is believed to be the first mass shooting in a Florida school.
But according to government estimates, texting and driving claims more than 17 lives on Florida roads every month. The Sunshine State has fallen far behind nearly all of its peers in enforcing a ban on mobile distractions.
There is still time for the Senate to take up the bill, but how much time they dedicate to the issue could depend on whether individual members hear from constituents.
This year's session is due to end Friday.
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