State House negotiators remained tight-lipped about their private conversations on distracted-driving legislation a week after an apparent deal fell apart.
In separate interviews, both Representative William Straus and Senator Joseph Boncore, who together chair the six-member conference committee, said they are still discussing the long-sought bill but declined to put a timeline on when their work may be complete.
“We’re going to continue to discuss it between the chairs,” Boncore said. He described himself as “confident” that a deal would be reached soon, but noted talks would last “as long as it takes.”
Straus said the conferees “have never stopped being in communication with each other,” despite the collapse of an apparent consensus last week.
The committee had agreed in principle to a compromise version of legislation that would ban virtually all hand-held electronic device use by drivers during a marathon July 31 session, but just a few hours later, Senate members refused to sign off, hinting at concerns over the language. As a result, the existing texting ban — which advocates and law enforcement have said for years is difficult to enforce and insufficient to address the deadly trend of distracted driving — remains the extent state law.
Lawmakers typically take a month-long August recess away from most legislative business and formal sessions. Asked if the conference committee would produce a final bill before a return to full business in September, Straus said, “anything is possible.”