Less than three weeks after Havre City Council voted 5 to 3 to ban the use of cellphones while driving, some council members think the issue might warrant a second look.
After receiving some calls from concerned constituents about the effects of this ban, councilwoman Pam Hillery starting making calls to some council colleagues to see what they would think about picking up the issue with a motion to repeal the law on an upcoming agenda.
“I’ve recieved a lot of calls from people saying we were being irrational, and there would be economic problems,” Hillery said. “I am always willing to respond to citizen concerns and consider things again.
“Law is law. It’s made by men, and men make mistakes.”
After spending “hours on the National Transportation Safety Board website” and reading articles on the subject, Hillery checked with a mix of council members on both sides of the June 6 council meeting vote, including Andrew Brekke and Janet Trethewey, who voted against it, and Bob Kaul who voted with Hillery for the ban.
Kaul was similarly interested in the findings of the NTSB and ongoing research they are conducting.
“With the NTSB also looking at electronic devices, maybe we would be better off to wait and see what they’re going to decide rather than us making a decision,” Kaul said.
Brekke said he’s not sure why the NTSB’s research should affect a law that has already passed, but he would be willing to look at repealing a law he is still against. He just wishes these thoughts had come out earlier.
“It’s interesting to me that people that voted for it are worrying about it,” Brekke said. “It would have been better to do this before the vote than to be talking about it now.
“For me its a testament to the fact that there are a lot people in this community that feel that we’re making a knee-jerk emotional response to a difficult topic for a lot of people.”
Allen “Woody” Woodwick was one of most vocal supporters of the ban, having been hit on his motorcycle by a driver who was texting. He had not heard of any second thoughts this morning, but said that a motion to repeal would be a mistake.
“I think that would definitely be a step backwards,” Woodwick said.
“Thirty-eight states have passed bans, more than two-thirds of the county. Many bigger cities in the state have passed this. Why should we be moving backwards?”
Mayor Tim Solomon, who would have to put the motion on an agenda, said Thursday that he also had not heard of a possible repeal.
The council members considering repeal believe that Woodwick, Bob Kaftan and Cal Long are likely to continue supporting the ban. They also thought Gerry Veis, Brekke and Trethewey would not change their minds. Hillery said that moving to reconsider would not necessarily mean she had changed her mind on the issue.
She said this morning that the “main decision-makers” would be Kaul, who could bring the vote to a tie, and in that case the mayor, who would have to break the tie.