MA Senate Republican Caucus Scores Key Victories During Safe Driving Debate

(You’ll take my cell phone from my cold dead hands. Thank you Senators. – promoted by Rob “EaBo Clipper” Eno)

The Massachusetts Senate Republican Caucus scored several key victories during today’s debate on the Safe Driving Bill (S.2290), which seeks to ban texting while driving and impose new testing requirements on elderly drivers.

Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei, Assistant Minority Leader Bruce Tarr and Senator Michael Knapik, the ranking Republican on the Senate Ways and Means Committee, offered a series of amendments during the debate, all of which were included in the final bill.

One Caucus proposal adopted by the Senate prohibits the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) from issuing driver’s licenses to illegal or undocumented aliens.  This amendment will ensure the state does not condone the actions of people who are breaking the law by being in the country illegally.

The Senate also approved a Caucus amendment to improve customer service at the RMV by reinstating its policy of providing written notices to drivers when their license or registration is about to expire.  The amendment requires consumers to be notified by mail within 30 days of the license or registration’s expiration date.

During the debate, the Senate also endorsed a Caucus amendment prohibiting the Registrar of Motor Vehicles from imposing any additional charges on consumers who utilize an RMV branch office or speak with an RMV representative over the phone when they could have conducted the same transaction online.  The amendment was filed after the Patrick Administration announced a new $5 fee for drivers who attempt to renew their license or registration in-person.

The $5 fee went into effect on Monday, but by Tuesday morning, Patrick had suspended the program in light of strong public opposition.  The Caucus amendment will protect the public from similar “back-door taxes” in the future.

The Caucus also had a hand in defeating a proposed Democratic amendment to ban the use of cell phones while driving but allow the use of “hands-free” cell phone technology.  The amendment would have allowed for primary enforcement of the ban, meaning a police officer could pull drivers over simply for using a cell phone.  The amendment was defeated on a roll call vote of 16-18, with all Caucus members voted against the amendment.

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