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Legislative Update (July 29, 2019)

Monday, July 29, 2019

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

This Thursday, August 1st, a number of new laws are set to go into effect. I wanted to take a moment to let you know about some of them.

Hands-Free While Driving

The new law that has been receiving the most attention lately is the “hands-free” law, which prohibits holding cell phones and other wireless communication devices while operating a motor vehicle. House Public Information Services provided this description of the new law:

“…the new law broadens the state’s existing ban on texting while driving, barring drivers from holding a cellphone or other wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle that is in motion or operating as a part of traffic on a street or highway. Drivers will be required to use hands-free technology when making calls, sending messages, or accessing content — including audio and navigation software — behind the wheel.”

The law does exempt emergency personnel performing their official duties, as well as if a driver needs to place a phone call to obtain emergency assistance.

Other new laws beginning August 1st include:

  • The omnibus transportation bill included a provision requiring slow vehicles to stay on the right side of the road, and moving out of the left-most lane to allow others to pass when practicable, with some exceptions.
  • A new law allows an officer to issue a citation to a driver if a work zone flagger has reported a traffic violation, such as speeding or violating traffic flagger directions, if the citation is issued within 4 hours of the violation.
  • Light rail train drivers will now be subject to reckless and careless driving laws, with penalties of a fine of up to $3,000 and imprisonment for up to one year if a violation causes great bodily harm or death.
  • If a person fails a test to determine if they are operating a motor vehicle under the influence, their snowmobile, ATV, and motorboat operating privileges will now be revoked.
  • More people will be allowed to administer Epi-Pens to help someone having an allergic reaction – now, “authorized individuals” will include people who successfully completes a training program.
  • Provider-based clinics will now need to disclose facility fees for nonemergency services before treatment – this law is intended to ensure patients are not surprised by separate charges related to the use of the facility, which result in higher out-of-pocket costs.
  • A new law prohibits retaliation against residents or employees of a nursing home or a housing with services establishment who intends to file a complaint, reports maltreatment, or participates in a legal proceeding, among other protected activities.
  • Applicants for permits, licenses, or other approval related to real estate development or construction may now request a non-binding estimate of the consulting fees they will be charged by a city related to their application.

Please Contact Me

As always, I encourage you to please contact me with any questions or input by phone at 651-296-4231 or by email at