The ink was barely dry on the Distracted Driving bill, passed into law in the regular session, before the legislature went after the cities that pushed them to adopt a statewide texting ban in the first place.
SB 15 sought to void local hands-free and no-texting ordinances around the state, wresting local control away from the people of Texas and erasing the many laws that are stronger than the statewide texting ban. BikeTexas testified before the Business and Commerce Committee, reminding them local ordinances can be vital to testing the effectiveness of traffic safety laws. It is well established that distracted driving costs many lives every year, but SB 15 would not have increased road safety and in fact would likely have done the opposite.
At the same time, BikeTexas testified against SB 14, which would have voided local tree ordinances. Trees and their management can be vital to a city’s brand, affecting its ability to attract employers and residents. Trees provide many benefits, including mitigating the heat island effect. Especially with our long, hot summers, trees ultimately make biking and walking better and improve quality of life. Tree ordinances should be decided at the local level and not the legislature.
We’re happy to report that neither bill was able to gain traction and the special session ended with the lege’s attack on local control being unsuccessful.