Delegate Luiz Simmons (D-Rockville) and Senator Brian Frosh (D-Bethesda) were unable to agree yesterday on a possible amendment to enable House Bill 363 to reach the Senate floor. The bill, sponsored by Simmons, would create a new crime of negligent homicide by vehicle for drivers who kill someone as a result of extreme negligence.
Senator Frosh has repeatedly told the news media that he is ambivalent about sending drivers to jail when death results from extreme negligence. But he is strongly opposed to creating criminal sanctions against drivers who kill someone as a result of socially acceptable forms of distracted driving, such as attending to a child in the back seat of a car. He has stated that his Committee must "thread the needle" by amending H.B 363 to ensure that acceptable forms of distracted driving are not punished.
A source close to Delegate Simmons thought that Frosh and Simmons had reached an oral agreement Wednesday to amend the bill to more closely track the language of the Model Penal Code, shortly after a hearing on the bill. Simmons drafted statutory text, provided it to the Attorney General for review, and then submitted it to Senator Frosh. But the Senator rejected the language, according to the source, without providing any indication of changes necessary to win his support. An email to Senator Frosh's office went unanswered.
The General Assembly adjourns this Monday, April 11.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are solely those of Jim Titus, and do not necessarily represent the official view of the Washington Area Bicyclists Association