Mills: Efforts to curb distracted driving, gambling

Legislative report

Highlights from this week in the House included HB1088, a renewed attempt to curb distracted driving. The bill would make using some capabilities of a cell phone or other device (like texting, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube ...) while driving, a primary offense and a Class 2 misdemeanor. A primary offense means you could be stopped because you were observed distracted by your device, and a Class 2 misdemeanor carries a possible 30-day jail sentence and $500 fine (or both).  

The hearing on this bill in House Transportation and the debate on the House floor were compelling. Originally, I thought I would be against another attempt to intrude into our personal freedom, but ended up voting for it in committee and on the floor. 

If you’d like to hear the testimony yourself, you can find the bill at   

Simply click on the SDPB audio links. The stories and personal experiences that were shared are worth hearing.  

This bill passed the House but still has to go through the Senate and be signed by the governor before it becomes law. I hope it makes it. We do need to stop this dangerous behavior that hurts many innocent people.

Something else we need to stop is the damage done from video lottery. I am the prime sponsor of HB1252, which will be heard in committee this week. HB1252 would wean the state from its addiction to the money from this most destructive form of gambling. Experts say that video lottery can create an addict in only months, compared with a decade or more from traditional casino gambling. One reason is that it is so convenient.  

Did you know we have over 1,300 video lottery casinos in South Dakota?

I am sure you’ve noticed that almost every C-store has one in it. That’s a big reason why WalletHub ranked South Dakota as second in the nation in gambling addiction (only Nevada is worse).  

To me it's wrong for our state to own this business and promote something we know is highly addictive, simply so it can skim money from the losses of the weak and vulnerable.   

Over $100 million is siphoned out of our communities from video lottery every year – before it has a chance to buy groceries, pay utility bills or support Main Street.  

I am hopeful to get HB1252 out of committee so that a broader statewide conversation can begin. I’ll plan to write more on this soon.  

For now, stay warm – and have the snow blower ready.  

In service to God and you,

John Mills, Representative, District 4 [email protected] OR [email protected]