SC hands-free bill fails, but lawmakers vow to keep trying

South Carolina News

AIKEN,S.C. (WJBF) – On average, distracted driving kills 50 people each year in South Carolina, according to the Department of Public Safety.

State lawmakers are pushing for a hands-free bill, but they are meeting resistance despite support from the lieutenant governor. 

“I’m all for that bill as a mom,” Lt. Goveror Pamela Evette said to a group in Aiken last week. 

The lieutenant governor commended the Aiken County delegation for their work to get hands-free laws passed in the Palmetto State. 

“You have one in the Senate, one in the House. Aiken should be proud,” Evette said. “Maybe we will some momentum with it next year.”

Representative Bill Taylor filed a hands-free bill that made it to the House floor, but it died.

“A group of little trial lawyers submarined that bill,” Rep. Taylor said. “We were debating the bill and then away it went. They got it back to their committee and not my committee.”

Afterward, Taylor turned to Senator Tom Young for help. Young filed his own hands-free bill in the Senate and it was referred to the transportation committee lead by Senator Larry Grooms. 

“I have asked him to schedule it for hearings this summer or fall before we go back to session in January,” Young said as he looked at Taylor. “At least it will have had one hearing before it goes back.”

Taylor says he will file another bill in the House, this time with speaker Jay Lucas’ support. 

“The minute it got submarined [Lucas] said let’s go at it again. We will change it a little bit,” Taylor said. “It will be more like the bill we filed in the Senate with some real penalties in it.

“If you do it, it’s not just a slap on the wrist. We’re going to double down in all kinds of different ways on it. That’s what you have to do.”

The lieutenant governor says safety is the fuel for seeing the hands-free laws passed in the state.

“If statistically, we can find that making sure those phones get put down and there being a penalty to it keeps them safe, that’s what we all want,” Evette said. “We all want to keep the people of our state safe.”

State lawmakers return to Columbia to finish out the legislative session on January 7, 2020. 

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