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Texting-ban revival falls flat in Senate

A last-minute effort on June 23 failed to revive legislation to ban texting while driving.

Senators had rejected the measure the day before. It was two votes short of passing the full Senate.

Sen. Richard Miranda, a Democrat from Tolleson who voted against the bill on June 22, told the Arizona Capitol Times he had changed his mind and would support the legislation.

But in order to vote on S1443 again, the bill needed to be reconsidered by the Senate first.

For the most part, the parliamentary maneuver is simple. Usually, no one would challenge the request and the body would grant it. Only a lawmaker on the prevailing side of the previous vote can make a motion to reconsider a measure that has earlier failed, which Miranda could do because he initially voted “no” on the texting legislation.

When the Tolleson Democrat made a motion to reconsider the bill, Senate Minority Leader Jorge Garcia, who opposed the legislation, made a substitute motion to reconsider and vote on it right away.

But even with Miranda’s support and assuming all those who voted for the bill would still back it, Sen. Al Melvin, the bill’s Republican sponsor, would still be lacking one more vote to advance it.

Melvin had hoped the 16th vote could from Sen. Debbie McCune Davis, a Phoenix Democrat. But McCune Davis was absent on the floor both on June 22, when they first voted on the bill, and on June 23, when supporters tried to revive the legislation.

Without securing the support of any other member who had voted “no” earlier, the bill was likely to fail — again — if it was immediately voted on for the second time.

Senate President Robert Burns ruled that Garcia’s motion was out of order, saying it’s his prerogative as Senate president to decide when to vote on a bill for reconsideration.

In the end, Miranda’s original motion to reconsider the bill failed by a vote of 11-to-13.

In any case, efforts to revive the legislation, for now at least, appeared headed for failure.

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