This really should be at the discretion of the Professors at the University/College.
1. If students are screwing around in class instead of paying attention, that's their prerogative. I see it little different from simply not paying attention (sleeping, doing homework for other classes, writing notes, etc etc) or even playing on their phones.
2. Distracting other students is nothing new, either, in regards to talking/snickering with nearby students.... hell, even someone with an obnoxious hat or hairdo that's hard to see over is enough to get on my nerves.
3. From an "honest" student's point of view, I find handwriting to be somewhat painful depending on the class/situation. I had one class (Statistical Thermodynamics) where I would *easily* fill 3 pages of notebook paper, front and back, with writing, sometimes spilling onto a 4th page or rarely a 5th. This was all in one hour-long (well, 50 minutes to be exact) class, and that was the 2nd class of 3 in a row. Needless to say, my hand HURT after that one. Then my 3rd class was programming, where the professor would typically type some sample code (with easy-to-make errors) and run them to show us where our bugs came from and how to spot them.
I found that approach very useful, but it was very tough to keep up with myself writing vs. him typing, and a lot of times, if I didn't get some exact pieces of code down, it'd be difficult for me to reproduce later, as it was never fresh in my head by the time I got to try it.
4. My father is a professor, and is no stranger to the laptops-in-class concept. Believe me, your professor can tell when you're not paying attention, laptop or not.
Basically, laptops can be a distraction or a big help, but for that matter, so can other students. Rather than call to spoil laptops in class for everyone, 'good' students can move away from the students that are a bother to themselves and others. I'm not exactly a "front row" kinda guy, but you shouldn't have to worry about someone's screen saver bothering you there. I typically only used my laptop for one or two classes per semester, but I found it to help out a lot in those.
One of my best professors held a little discussion/forum on the last day of class every semester, evaluating students' opinions on the usefulness or lack thereof in the class, and he used that to help his decision. That's a good enough system, so why would the decision need to come from four levels up at the Dean/Provost level of the College/University?