Cell phone emergencies and bullying policies

Jefferson committee meets to discuss House bills


By Jonathan Meyer


This afternoon the Jefferson committee met to discuss their bills. The meeting began with Jefferson Blue’s HB 4006: Tracking civilian’s phone location with authority permission. The bill would enable the authorities to track phone locations in case of an emergency. Jefferson’s lobbyist, Hope Diamond, supports this bill for Jefferson Blue caucus. Diamond gave a summary of the Kelsie Smith story in which a teenage girl was found dead after four days because the law enforcement was refused her cell phone information to track her down. Once the cell phone information had been given, they found the girl in roughly 45 minutes. Diamond then went on to say that this bill would be profitable because nearly everyone has a trackable device of some type, unlike a hundred years ago, when she was small, the only phones available were pay phones. She also stated that you have the right to life in an emergency.

Next, the opposing lobbyist, Jon Mieczkowski, took his place and stated the reasons he opposes this bill. He believes this bill is an assault on the Bill of Rights and undermines the Fourth Amendment. He then shared a few various ways this bill could be abused.

The table was then open for questions from the committee. One representative asked the supporting lobbyist, “Do you feel people’s rights are being violated by this bill?” Her immediate response was, “No I do not. Their rights could be violated without this bill. But there is an imminent risk of people’s lives being in danger.” When asked how she would define an emergency, she replied, “The law enforcement takes into account the evidence and information and will decide whether or not it is an emergency. Calling 911 from where one is located will not necessarily tell the police where they are located. Tracking their phone will.” Lobbyist Hope Diamond went on to say, “Twenty-three other states have already passed this bill. It is the best we can do at this point to locate missing people. It will not find people who don’t want to be found. We don’t have the technology at this time to do that. The law enforcement can already obtain this information, that is not the question. The question is how much sooner can they get it if this bill is passed. The answer? Much faster.” In answer to another question, Hope Diamond said, “Imminent risk of danger or death is the only time an officer may ask for personal information. Law enforcement is too busy with real real crimes to spend time stalking individuals.” When the opposing lobbyist Jon Mieczkowski was asked if he would agree that if this legislation is passed, people’s lives could be micromanaged, he replied, “Yes.”

During the time of open debate, the question was asked, “who gets to decide whether a phone needs to be tracked?” The answer was that it should be left to the officer who took the call to decide if it is a legitimate emergency. The supporting caucus stated, “We would rather have people protesting than people dying.”

After a quick break, Jefferson Red caucus introduced HB 4162. Prohibit Bullying. Supporting lobbyist Mary Haan stated that the standard tolerance for bullying should be zero, saying, “none of us can solve a problem that in our mind does not exist.” She also mentioned that using peer pressure as a method of diminishing bullying accounts.

During the time of questions, she was asked by a representative why bullying was like an addiction. Her answer was because it gets worse and worse and just keeps progressing. She was also asked to clarify that students should be dealing with other students to pressure them into not bullying. Her answer? Yes, they should. A follow up question she was asked was, “Isn’t pressuring them bullying them?” Her answer was that yes, kind of… The representative who asked the question replied, “The student being bullied would be bullying the bully into not bullying them.” Another representative asked what age appropriate punishment should be to which she replied that peer pressure was the best overall way of dealing with bullies.

The next lobbyist, Teri Lingley, gave her reasons for opposing HB 4162. Lingley is the president of a non-profit organization named Kindness Matters. She believes this bill only addresses what is happening at the time and does not address what the bully may do in the future. The bully is only prohibited from bullying on the school grounds. What about on the weekends? She stated, “All of us must take an active role in stopping bullying. Kids need to be taught how to behave at home so when they come to school they will not start misbehaving.”

A representative asked, “Wouldn’t this bill paint a bigger target on the back of the kid that reported the bully? Wouldn’t the bully target them off of school grounds?” Her answer was an adamant, “Yes! Which is why this bill should not be passed onto the House floor.” The opposing lobbyist’s final statement was, “The bully may not care about getting punished. They want attention whether it is positive or negative.”

At the final time of open debate, the sponsoring caucus asked, “If it happens in school shouldn’t there be a school policy in school to deal with it at school?” The opposing caucuses response was, “It should not happen at school in the first place!” In conclusion of discussion over the bill the question was asked, “How could you say no to giving help to both the bully and the bullied?”