Sunday, August 18, 2013

Senator Harkins Disputes Need for Public Safety Law

Sen. Josh Harkins (R-Flowood)
The Clarion-Ledger reports this morning that a number of senators are renewing a push to enact a statewide ban of texting while driving.

In a recent Senate Transportation Committee meeting, proponents of the legislation discussed why the bill was needed to help save lives and urged more discussion on how to limit distracted driving.

During the course of the meeting, Senator Josh Harkins had the following remarks:
"It's not just texting. Where do you draw the line? A distracted driver is a distracted driver whether it's someone on the phone, or eating, or looking at a magazine or reading a newspaper. You'd be surprised at what you see people doing."
Harkins's comments certainly don't indicate how he would vote if a bill was before him. He seems to be taking a "why not ban everything or nothing" approach to what an individual can do in his or her personal vehicle.  Let's take a quick look at his record to follow the trail of breadcrumbs to see what he may do.

During the 2012 Regular Session, his first year of service in the legislature, Harkins filed two bills that stand out. His first bill, S. 2881, would have required some minors who operate motor bikes to wear a helmet or pay a fine. The second bill, S. 3034, would allow the Rankin County Sheriff's Department to use radar to enforce speeding laws. One could argue that these two bills would allow law enforcement to enhance its public safety capacity, thus increasing the scope of government. It should be noted that he did not file either of those bills during this year's session.

What happened in the course of a year that has Harkins offering bills that would expand the role of government to questioning why such bills are needed? Does it have anything to do with him joining the Senate Conservative Coalition, a caucus of tea party-minded members?

Hopefully, Harkins will keep an open mind as the debate over texting and driving continues. After all, he has a record to defend and a lot of drivers along Lakeland Drive to keep in mind.

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