A recent poll shows that a large majority of Idahoans support a statewide ban on the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. The poll also revealed that Idahoans think that local governments should be able to enact those restrictions if the state won’t. But, this session, Rep. Chad Christensen (R-Ammon) introduced HB77 to ban local governments from enacting hand-held cell phone bans. The bill would also repeal any existing local ordinances, like the ones in Blaine County, Ketchum, Hailey, and other places in Idaho. The House Transportation and Defense Committee killed the bill in a close 7-8 vote. That is the good news. Another bill to address distracted driving with a statewide ban on using hand-held phones, SB1064, failed narrowly.
HB127 allows counties to opt out entirely of creating comprehensive plans, which would create a great deal of uncertainty about land use patterns and negatively impact local communities’ ability to plan for orderly development. Local government officials from Blaine County, including Commissioner Angenie McCleary and Bellevue Mayor Ned Burns, testified against this bill in a committee hearing last week. The bill moved forward on a very close vote and continues to gain traction. Stay tuned on this one—comprehensive plans are an important tool citizens use to help shape the future of our communities.