This story originally published in the Peninsula Clarion.

Soldotna City Council member Jordan Chilson is looking to amend the Soldotna Municipal Code to prohibit the use of hand-held electronic devices, like cellphones, while driving in school zones and on school property.

This year, the Alaska State Legislature passed House Bill 333, which gave cities the ability to regulate the use of cellphones while operating a motor vehicle in active school zones and on school property.

In a Dec. 3 memo to the city council, Chilson said the ordinance will establish the use of a hand-held screen device while driving in school zones and property as a minor offense.

“This would not, however, apply to handsfree device usage or parked vehicles, not in operation,” Chilson wrote in his memo.

In his memo, Chilson said the ordinance serves as a tool to keep children safer.

“Based on my discussions with local school administrators, there have been ongoing safety issues with parents distracted by cell phones in their parking lots during student pick up and drop off times,” Chilson said in the memo. “I believe the safety of our local students is paramount.”

The ordinance is being introduced at Wednesday’s Soldotna City Council meeting. A public hearing will follow at the Jan. 9 meeting.

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