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House pulls distracted driving crackdown from Ohio budget bill

DeWine wants to make distracted driving reason enough for police to pull someone over.
Credit: Brian A Jackson/Shutterstock.com

House Republicans have pulled a crackdown on distracted driving from their version of the state transportation budget, and also killed proposed vehicle registration fee increases. Both measures were sought by GOP Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.

DeWine wants to make distracted driving reason enough for police to pull someone over. His proposal addressed such activities as writing, sending or looking at texts, watching or recording photos or videos, or livestreaming while handling an electronic device, among other activities.

The measure would have made handling an electronic device a primary offense, meaning police wouldn’t need another reason first — such as speeding — to pull drivers over. The governor backed similar legislation last year that failed to become law.

The proposal was removed to avoid dealing with criminal law in the two-year state spending package, said House Finance Chairman Scott Oelslager, a Canton Republican, Gongwer News Service reported.

The crackdown already faced legislative hurdles, with Senate President Matt Huffman previously expressing concerns about municipalities using such a law to generate revenue through ticket writing.

DeWine wanted the vehicle registration fee increases to cover a $133 million budget gap for the Highway State Patrol. Instead, House Republicans added $70 million for the patrol’s budget.

The GOP committee also proposed $193.7 million for public transit funding, more than doubling the request in DeWine’s budget.