AUSTIN (AP) – Sending or reading text messages while driving would be outlawed in Texas under a bill passed by legislature and headed for Gov. Rick Perry’s desk.

Lawmakers late Sunday approved the ban on texting while driving as a midnight deadline approached. Drivers caught texting or emailing on their phones can be fined upward of $200.

Republican Rep. Tom Craddick sold the proposal as a public-safety measure, but the bill triggered more than a half-hour of debate on the House floor. Opponents said the bill would amount to criminalizing drivers simply for receiving a text message while driving.

San Antonio and El Paso already have laws forbidding texting while driving, and at least 30 other states have enacted similar statewide bans.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)