Why did MN legislators waive policy banning posters at some hearings on hands free cell phones?

Before I get to a post about questions that ought to be explored surrounding the proposed ban on handheld cell phone use while driving, I wanted to let you know that something very rare has happened with this bill. There are unwritten standards of allowable conduct at MN legislative hearings. For generations the standards have not allowed testifiers or audience members to make a visual demonstration using banners, protest signs, poster-sized photos, or other displays distinct from personal clothing. Last month in the Transportation Committees of the House and Senate, the chairmen of these committees (who also happen to be the chief authors this year of the bills banning handheld cell phone use by drivers) secured an exception to the standards which allowed advocates to display large photos of family members that had been lost in accidents linked to distracted driving. An authoritative source in the Senate Sgt.-at-Arms office responded to my inquiry about this by noting that this was the first time such an exception had been allowed in his 38 years in the office. The justification given for the exception was that it was a “humanistic effort”, based on the subject matter, to allow a reaction of personal respect in honor of family members who were victims of distracted-driving accidents. He was nervous that my inquiry was related to a desire to secure a new exception and that “no good deed would go unpunished”.
However, one can show sensitivity to affected family members advocating for a crackdown on distracted driving yet still only allow such demonstrations in areas outside of the hearing rooms. Emotions notwithstanding, there is very little evidence that these accidents were caused merely by drivers holding cell phones, which is what the bill sponsors and people holding the photo posters want to ban. The visual displays did create an environment which could have intimidated some lawmakers from asking tough questions to proponents of a ban, and undoubtedly did garner greater and more sympathetic publicity for those family members testifying for a ban. The committee chairmen/bill authors who secured the exception should have had the ethics to recuse themselves from a decision that gave them greater leverage in the process, assuming that the request for an exception actually originated from the testifiers and not the chief authors. People on both sides of the major-party divide have increasingly become comfortable with ends-justify-the-means circumventions of time-honored customs and procedures in MN state government. This was just the latest troubling example. UPDATE:  They did it again. Another Senate committee–this time, Judiciary– waived its rule against signs on display in its hearing room . Poster-sized photos of family members lost in crashes linked to distracted driving were allowed. Second time rule has been waived in 38 years. Both in the last month, and both for this issue. One has to think that family members of victims of intentional homicide have testified at hearings in the past, without this rule being waived. How comfortable would you feel as a legislator asking a tough question to a testifier surrounded by poster-sized photos of victims? You might hear that legislators are thoughtfully exploring what to do about the issue of distracted driving. This waiver and the hearings themselves tell a different story. So does Senate Leader Gazelka’s quote in the Star Tribune that a bill requiring all phone use by drivers to be hands-free will pass “for sure”. The DFL leadership is fully on board; the only debate is over the penalties attached. The main bill being pushed, SF91/HF50, makes no distinction on penalties between texting while driving and drivers merely holding a phone. The MN Chamber of Commerce put passing a hands-free phone bill prominently in its list of 2019 policy priorities. Knowing that, could there be any doubt that the Republican leaders would get on board? Drivers in the urban core are irate with how often they are being pulled over for equipment violations. They’re going to love the cops even more once they start getting pulled over for every time a cop sees a phone in their hands.