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$17.5 Million Grant On The Line If Texas Passes Texting Ban

Ryan Poppe

 The Senate Committee on Transportation heard emotional testimony Wednesday about the horrors of texting while driving as the state legislature is thinking about federal grant possibilities. 

On the Senate side of the texting argument, Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, is carrying the bill that bans texting while driving, but unlike it’s companion bill in the House, this bill targets federal grant money.

"To be eligible for federal MAP-21 grants to states for education and enforcement of texting while driving laws require distracted driving content to be evaluated as part of a state driver license  examination, and modify the minimum fine for first offenders to provide a graduated penalty for multiple offenses," Zaffirini said.

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced the possibility for a $17.5 million grant if the state were to implement a texting ban.  

Zaffirini's bill does allow drivers to use GPS devices without receiving a fine.

Jennie Brown, a mother from the West Texas town of Wellman, testified in favor of the bill.

"My daughter died in 2009. We had not heard of anyone dying in a wreck from texting and driving and there were 6,000 people that were killed the year before because of it. So that was one mission my family took upon ourselves is we've got to start talking, people have to understand this is dangerous, and at the time we didn’t think a law was needed," Brown said.

Brown said she is tired of the response that some lawmakers give that the state can just increase its educational campaign about texting while driving. 

As far as the bill is concerned, Zaffirini said she does not have the votes in the senate right now and the bill was left pending in committee.

Ryan started his radio career in 2002 working for Austin’s News Radio KLBJ-AM as a show producer for the station's organic gardening shows. This slowly evolved into a role as the morning show producer and later as the group’s executive producer.