Jim Hansen's House Bill 1745 would modify language in state statute that currently specifies that anyone under the age of 21 is prohibited from texting while operating a motor vehicle.

When the Missouri Legislature convened at noon Wednesday for the 2018 legislative session, a Northeast Missouri representative hopes his two bills filed thus far will get further than they did in 2017.

Jim Hansen (R-Frankford) is again pushing for a total ban on texting while driving in the Show-Me State. His House Bill 1745 would modify language in state statute that currently specifies that anyone under the age of 21 is prohibited from texting while operating a motor vehicle. That ban, under Hansen's bill, would extend to anyone behind the wheel of a noncommercial vehicle. Commercial drivers are also already prohibited from texting while driving.

Hansen told the Courier-Post when he first filed the bill last year that texting while driving is a distraction for people of any age, so targeting younger drivers with a ban on texting while driving — as the law currently does — doesn’t make the most sense.

“Most people 21 and under can text and drive blindfolded compared to people older,” Hansen said at the time.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol and Missouri Department of Transportation have consistently preached about the dangers of texting while driving. Both state agencies have worked to inform the public about the consequences of such behavior. The 2017 version of Hansen's bill was referred to a House committee near the end of the session, but gained little traction.

A second bill Hansen hopes will sees more attention is his House Bill 1744, which would eliminate the requirement that a student participating in the state's A+ program attend a high school in Missouri for three years immediately prior to graduation. The A+ program allows students to participate in tutoring programs in exchange for college tuition at certain high education institutions.

Hansen said the change would allow non-traditional students — like homeschooled students — to a participate in the program.

Unlike Hansen's texting bill, the A+ bill was approved by the Missouri House in 2017 and was read in the Senate, where it died at the end of the session.

The 2018 legislative session began Jan. 3.

Reach editor Eric Dundon at eric.dundon@courierpost.com