House OKs gadget ban anew


The House of Representatives passed unanimously a new ban on mobile electronic devices while driving during their session last Monday in the House chamber on Capitol Hill.

The House on Monday supported a bill 19-0 proposing to ban mobile electronic devices in House Bill 20-172 as introduced by House minority leader Rep. Edmund S. Villagomez (Ind-Saipan). The bill seeks to ban the use electronic devices such as tablets and cell phones while driving by making it a ground for law enforcement to impose a fine.

Villagomez earlier this year introduced a similar bill, H.B. 20-08. H.B. 20-08 made it to Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ desk, but was ultimately vetoed in its entirety after the Senate made amendments that did not sit well with the governor.

During discussions on the bill Monday, Villagomez stated that his new bill, H.B. 20-172, took into consideration Torres’ suggestion when he vetoed H.B. 20-08.

“The governor’s message favored the original version [of H.B. 20-08]. The Senate version excluded emergency responders, [and in H.B. 20-172] we put that provision back in this bill,” said Villagomez during discussions yesterday, adding that the bill also excluded emergency calls made while driving.

The bill further generalized the gadgets that pertaining to the violation after Torres in a previous transmittal letter vetoing H.B. 20-08 maintained the position that merely stating a ban on “cellular/mobile telephones” was insufficient since technology is not anymore restricted to only mobile phones. Language in H.B. 20-172 referred to “mobile electronic devices.”

“[This] includes tablets, phones, and other handheld electronic devices,” said Villagomez. The bill, according to Villagomez citing the Office of Attorney General, also included the use of mobile electronic devices for application usage, such as Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook to name a few leading mobile apps.

The bill heads to the Senate for referral to a committee.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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