Nebraska Bill Would Allow Traffic Stops for Texting

Law enforcement would have the authority to pull over motorists who are texting while driving under a bill introduced Friday by a western Nebraska lawmaker.

The bill, sponsored by Scottsbluff Sen. John Harms, would make it a primary offense to type, read or send messages from an electronic device while driving.

Harms sponsored Nebraska’s current texting-while-driving law in 2010, which classifies it a secondary offense, meaning police can only cite drivers who have been stopped for some other traffic offense.

Officials with the Nebraska Highway Safety Administration have said they support the bill.

First-offense texting while driving carries a $200 fine, a second offense imposes a $300 fine, and drivers who violate the rule three or more times pay $500.

Lawmakers have introduced 155 bills and three proposed constitutional amendments since the session began on Wednesday.

Another measure introduced Friday would require schools to enact tobacco-free policies. Omaha Sen. Jeremy Nordquist said his proposals would require that policies apply to students, staff and visitors. The policy would ban smoking on school grounds and at school-sponsored events.

“It is our obligation to create a healthy learning and working environment and do our best to expose children to positive behaviors before kids begin a lifelong habit that is difficult to break,” Nordquist said Friday.

Another bill by Lincoln Sen. Amanda McGill would lower the state’s voter registration age from 18 to 16. The voting age would stay at 18. The measure was inspired in part by studies that show early registration increases turnout among young voters.