That wording in the law, sponsored by state Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas, implies effectively that the opposite also holds true — those not wanting to enforce it may ignore it by not posting anything.
We would hope that there is no local city, county or lawman uninterested in enforcing this law that protects the safety of our schoolchildren. Thankfully, many area school districts and cities already have or are planning to have signs installed.
We applaud the Legislature's effort to protect our schoolchildren, and commend those districts whose signs are already in place or are in the works.
Branch, in a story in the Austin American-Statesman on Wednesday, said he did not intend for the law to be optional, the purpose being to have a uniform law on cell phone use throughout Texas. He would address the ambiguity in the next legislative session, he said.
Bennett Sandlin, general counsel for the Texas Municipal League, in the Statesman story said the law clearly gives local governments a choice.
"If a city doesn't have the money to put up a sign right now, that's just the way it is," Sandlin said. "It's going to be a matter of each city attorney deciding what to do on their own."
In Austin plans are already under way at the city's transportation department to put up two signs in each of the city's 266 school zones.
Cities and counties are responsible for paying for the signs except those under the responsibility of TxDOT, which has oversight of school zones where a state highway passes through a town of fewer than 50,000 people.
For safety's sake, any remaining cities and counties in East Texas not on board with this law need to find the money to pay for these signs and get them installed. We encourage all law enforcement agencies to make it a priority to enforce it and all drivers to respect it. No one likes to pay tickets, but if it takes a state law to get drivers' attention so their inattention behind the wheel doesn't cost our children's lives, then it's time to hang up — or pay up.