Since when is it a bad thing for state legislators to respond to a “popular” concern? During debate in the Kansas Senate last week, Sen. Chris Steineger of Kansas City, Kan., slammed a bill that would ban texting while driving in Kansas, calling the legislation “dumb” and “popular, not practical.” Sen. Jay Emler of Lindsborg, who drafted the bill, responded that anyone who questioned his motivation should “spend 10 years on an ambulance picking up dead people (as Emler did as a volunteer ambulance driver). It was drafted to save lives.”
Steineger subsequently apologized for his remarks and explained that he only was trying to make the point that the bill was too narrow and wouldn’t address many other activities, such as eating or talking on the phone, which also can be a serious distraction to drivers.
Steineger is right that laws against inattentive driving already exist and could be applied to texting, but the rapid rise in texting drivers, and the sometimes-tragic consequences of that behavior, has gotten the attention of Kansas motorists, many of whom believe it deserves special legislative attention.
Will an anti-texting bill be popular across Kansas? Probably, but what’s wrong with that? With all the unpopular decisions Kansas legislators are making this year, why not pass at least one measure that Kansans will like?