CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The seat belt bill showed signs of life on Monday as House leaders moved it into position for a vote, but key lawmakers were predicting the count would be tight.
Although House Bill 2108 has passed both the House Transportation and Judiciary committees, it has been stalled for the last two weeks.
On Monday the House Rules Committee voted to put the bill on its active agenda, officially breathing life back into the controversial measure.
The bill would make failure to wear a seat belt a primary offense - a violation that would allow police officers to pull over a driver. Right now someone must be speeding, driving erratically or otherwise committing a primary offense for an officer also to cite the person for not wearing the seat belt.
Currently, 32 states have primary seat belt laws and 17 have secondary laws like West Virginia's. One state, New Hampshire, has neither.
Under the bill moving in the House, the $25 fine would remain the same.
For five years Sen. Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha, has introduced the measure only to see it die in the House. He introduced it again in the Senate this year but wanted to see how lawmakers in the opposite chamber dealt with their own bill.
On Monday he said he had heard there was enough support in the House to pass the bill but was unaware the measure actually was headed to the House floor.
"All these straw-vote counts are not worth that much," Palumbo said.
House Speaker Rick Thompson, D-Wayne, plans to gauge the support of his fellow Democrats for the bill when they caucus this morning, said a spokesperson.