McIntosh to push Senate cell phone bill
The Sun's Annie Linskey reports that Del. Maggie McIntosh (right) plans to bring the Senate language on a proposed hands-held cell phone ban out of committee and to the House floor next week -- the most likely strategy for final passage of the bill.
McIntosh, a Baltimore Democrat who runs her committee with a strong hand, says she's charting that course because she "really wants this." She said she plans to confer with the Senate bill's sponsor and her vice chairman, Baltimore County Democrats Sen. Norman Stone and Del. James Malone, before taking action.
The Senate bill would allow a police officer to ticket a motorist for driving while chatting on a hand-held cell phone only if the driver were observed committing some other offense -- such as speeding. If talking on a cell phone is all the driver is doing wrong, there would not be probable cause for a traffic stop.
By adopting the Senate language in its entirety, the House would sidestep any need to ask the Senate to concur in any changes it made. Because the bill squeaked through the Senate by a 24-23 vote, any changes that returned it to that chamber would give opponents another opportunity to kill the bill outright or simply run out the clock before the session ends.
If the House passes the Senate bill, it would go directly to Gov. Martin O"Malley, who has already issued an executive order banning the on-the-job use of hand-held cell phones by state employees, for his signature. The crucial test could come when the Senate bill comes to the House floor for possible amendment. If McIntosh can beat back the flurry of amendments opponents are likely to throw at the bill, chances for final passage would be good.