ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ A bill to require motorists to use hands-free devices when talking on the phone while driving has passed its first committee stop in the Minnesota Legislature.

A House transportation committee approved the bill on a unanimous voice vote Tuesday after hearing emotional testimony from several people who lost loved ones in crashes caused by drivers who were distracted by their cellphones.

Committee chairman and sponsor Frank Hornstein says the experience of other states with similar laws shows that enacting the hands-free requirement will save many lives.
Legislative leaders have said they expect hands-free legislation will be enacted this year, and with bipartisan support.

The bill has at least one more committee stop before it reaches the House floor. A Senate committee has a hearing scheduled on a similar bill Wednesday.

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