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Motion to Instruct Conferees on H.R. 4348, Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012, Part II

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BISHOP of Utah. I thank the gentlewoman from Tennessee.

I guess I, as well as others, are here today to plead the 10th Amendment. You see, texting while driving is dangerous, and it should be stopped. Careless driving of any form is dangerous, and it should be stopped. We should be grateful for every effort to educate our drivers as to the significance of this particular effort, but the question has to be: Are the efforts only to be done in this particular body?

A driver's license is a State certificate. Driving is a State privilege. And even though Congress has, in the past, overstepped our responsibility in involving ourselves in these areas--and that was wrong--that is certainly not justification for continuing that practice ever forward. The Commerce Clause does not necessarily expand to this area. The Senators, in their wisdom, have included a provision in there dealing with this issue. It's a noble concept. It's a worthy goal.

The approval or disapproval of texting while driving is not the issue. The issue is not should it happen; the issue is who, at which level, should decide if it happens and what the consequences should be.

The issue is, are we the only ones who have the opportunity of breathing the air of the Potomac River, the only ones smart enough to be involved in this issue, the only ones compassionate enough to be involved in this issue. I would contend to you that those who are in our States are equally competent to handle this issue.

It's been mentioned, 39 States already outlaw texting. Ten outlaw any kind of a handheld communication while driving. Thirty-two States ban all sorts of these efforts with novice drivers. My State of Utah has moved forward in this particular area. And yet the Senate has now put in $79 million to incentivize States to do what they're already doing.

We tried to pass a balanced budget amendment on this floor. It failed and I felt sad about that; but I realized also we can accomplish the exact same goals if we respect federalism, which, of course, was reinforced in the 10th Amendment. Federalism simply would require the Federal Government to concentrate on the core constitutional responsibilities given to us in that document and allow the States the flexibility to solve the other problems.

States do not have the kind of restrictions established in the Constitution that we have. States can be far more creative than a one-size-fits-all program from Washington. States can be much more effective in the way they run their programs. States can actually apply justice to unique circumstances within their State borders. That can never be accomplished by Washington. Our only ability is to make sure that everything is uniform. We can accomplish the same goal if we respect the authority of States.

$79 million is a high price to pay for the arrogance that only we here in Washington can do things well. The States are doing it. Not everything has to be ordained, funded, and controlled by those who sit on this floor. The States have every competence, every ability. We should support the 10th Amendment and recognize the States should do this. They will do a better job than we.


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