Hickey smokes out speeding tickets bill

Four weeks ago, the House Transportation Committee voted to kill Rep. Steve Hickey’s legislation putting speeding back on the “points system” where the worst repeat offenders could lose their licenses.

At the time, Hickey was a little shell-shocked by the unexpected defeat, but said he’d consider trying to revive the bill with a smokeout.

Nothing happened the next day, or the day after that, or any time in the next week. Many people, myself included, presumed the threatened smokeout wasn’t coming and forgot about the issue.

Hickey didn’t forget.

Today, in between two failed attempts to smoke out defeated conservative bills on guns and immigration, Hickey rallied at least 24 allies in the House to force new debate on his speeding tickets bill, House Bill 1080.

After the House adjourned, Hickey then went upstairs to the Transportation committee, which voted 7-6 to send the bill to the House floor with no recommendation.

That was the middle of three possible recommendations, the others being to recommend the House pass the bill and recommend the House do not pass the bill.

Why the delay, and why the sudden success for Hickey in smoking out HB 1080? It has to do with new information he recently received from the Department of Public Safety.

"One of the pieces of information that was asked in the committee was, ‘Do the states that are surrounding us with a points system have a lower fatality rate?’ I was unable to answer that question," Hickey said. "That’s a key piece of information."

After three weeks of research, DPS came back to Hickey with a 13-page report showing states like Minnesota, Iowa and North Dakota, all of which will take away driver’s licenses for repeat speeding, have lower fatality rates per mile driven than South Dakota.

Hickey said that information is a key argument in favor of HB 1080. But he didn’t predict how the bill would fare Wednesday, when the House must either approve or reject it.

A similar measure last year narrowly failed in a divided House.