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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Tama Theis (R)

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Capitol Update from Rep. Tama Theis

Monday, July 29, 2019

Dear 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.

One of the most notable new laws is the “hands-free” law, which prohibits holding cell phones and other wireless communication devices while behind the wheel of a car. The new law allows drivers to use a cell phone to make calls, text, listen to music and get directions, but only by voice commands or single-touch activation without holding the phone.

There are exceptions for obtaining emergency assistance if there is an immediate threat to life and safety, or when in an authorized emergency vehicle while performing official duties.

In addition to the hands-free law, there were several notable changes to transportation laws. The omnibus transportation bill included a provision requiring slower vehicles to stay to the right side of the road, and moving out of the left-most lane to allow others to pass. Another 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. Also, 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.

Outside of the transportation arena, here are some other new laws that may be of interest to you:

  • People will now be allowed to administer Epi-Pens to help someone having an allergic reaction once they have successfully completed 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.
  • Community emergency medical technicians will now be permitted to serve on a basic life support ambulance service, and services provided by community paramedics via telemedicine will now be covered under Medical Assistance.
  • 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.

This is a non-comprehensive list, as there were a lot of omnibus bills containing hundreds of pages of new and changed regulations. If you have a question about a particular law change, please contact my office.

It’s an honor to be your voice at the Capitol. Have a wonderful weekend!