Friday, February 15, 2013

Madness Under the Gold Dome

As the Georgia Congress began their newest session,  I began the annual review of what's happening.  For anyone who lives in Georgia, the Georgia PTA has a fabulous website, Capital Watch, to help you find out what legislation is being heard and where a bill is in the process to becoming a law.

So, I began my search with looking at any legislation that targets children.  After reading and researching the list of 10 bills, I felt like I needed to shower my brain.  The bills fall into three categories:  potentially useful, baby-kissing/netural, and potentially terrible.  Sadly, the smallest category is the potentially useful, which only had one candidate, a bill that requires private insurance to cover kids with cancer or autism.

The baby-kissing/neutral category includes bills that plays into the current set of public concerns, such as concussions from sports and the fear of child abuse in daycare centers.  I cringe at these bills, because people are wasting time reading and discussing issues that aren't really issues.  Yes, families and players need to know that getting hit in the head is bad, but do we really need a law for that?

But what has my head spinning are the bills that accomplish nothing except make life miserable for law-abiding folk.  One bill is to "urge Congress"  to require identification for minors on airplane flights as a supposed way to stop human trafficking.  First, why urge Congress?  Why not do something directly to stop human trafficking?  Second, who seriously thinks that people who coordinate and manage a human trafficking network can't get fake IDs?  But this will inconvenience everyone else.  All of us law-abiding citizens will now have to jump through hoops just to let your children fly, knowing all the while that all the headaches and hassles still will not stop human trafficking.

The second bill that is negative deals with drunk drivers.  Bill SB 15 would requires first time drunk driver offenders to get a functioning certified ignition device installed and keep the device installed for at least six months.  Second and further offenders need the device for 12 months.   This device requires the driver to pass a breath test before the car will start, and asks for periodic checks while driving.

While on the surface this seems like a good idea, what happened to simply removing the person's license for six months?  If we, as a society, want to stop drunk driving, then we need to stop letting drunks keep their license and keep driving.  The information on the ignition devices includes how the designers try to anticipate the ways around the device and what they do to counteract all the cheats that they think of.  Well, if a person doesn't have a license and maybe not even a car, then they don't have to worry about how a drunk person will attempt to drive.

I would love to see our politicians pass a law that says, "First time offenders lose their driving privileges for six months and perform 100 hours of community service..  Second time offenders lose their driving privileges for a year, pay a fine to cover the cost of having their car impounded for a year, and perform 500 hours of community service.  Third time offenders lose their driving privileges for two years, pay a fine to cover having their car impounded for two years, and do 1,000 hours of community service. Fourth time offenders permanently lose their driving privileges, forfeit their car, and do 5,000 hours of community service."

Let's hope that the rest of the bills up for consideration show more backbone and less politics.

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