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Posts Tagged ‘Nanny State’

Firestone-Tire-SafetyIn Oregon, support for a ban on smoking in cars with kids is well on its way to the Governor.   Senate Bill 444 which passed the Oregon Senate last week would allow police to ticket drivers who were caught smoking in their car if anyone under 18 was present after they were pulled over for another offense.

It’s another example in a long list of arbitrary and capricious “nanny state” regulations, but it passed easily.

The action is no different than what the “Soda Jerk” – NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg – has attempted by imposing his will for the sheer sake of being a true believer in the lifesaving consequences of HIS health agenda.  It would be similar to – and I hate to even provide the idea – the Portland Mayor forcing top-shelf restaurants such as Andina and The Chart House to no longer serve bottles of wine as a way to fight alcoholism.

Independent of what I think about this second-hand cigarette smoking measure, I’m unapologetically against “nanny state” regulation and government highhanded scolding through regulation.  These so-called “substantive bills” seem to have no limit to the government imposing their will for the sheer sake of it.

But, I’m not blogging to rail about poor parenting skills, or scold people for excessive Cherry Coke consumption or promote a car smoking ban.  Rather, once the regulators keep kids safe from second hand smoke where do their idle hands focus next?  Likely on our bedrooms with unmanned vehicles spying monitoring from the back yard patio?!

According to this report (.pdf) only nine % of Oregonians think the government spends money wisely.  The fact that state legislators spent any time on a second-hand smoke issue – which isn’t on anyone’s top 10 list – just amplifies the point.

If a mental break is needed from addressing big issues like PERS reform, streamlining the tax code or fixing the corrections budget, take some time to ponder the number of Oregonians who are effected by road conditions.

As regulators race to Salem complaining about drivers on their cell phones “parked” in the left lane… slow down and look at the poor conditions of the pavement.  I invite you to check out the pavement on OR 217, where fewer than 100K+ vehicles travel daily.  It’s so severely rutted that sections are dangerous for motorcycle travel.  Automobiles changing lanes pepper cars with loose asphalt from the rutted right side to the rutted left lane and bounce around until they settle into the ruts.  It’s worse during the rain… which is 300 days of the year!  The last time major repaving occurred on OR 217 was back in 2006.  Prior to ‘06 it was repaved in 1994.

There are sections of OR 217 that should be classified as “structurally deficient” and signs should be erected in places similar to the “Motorcycles Use Extreme Caution” in Washington State.

The funding and road repair priorities in the state are a big issue.  The second-hand smoke while driving bill is nothing but a distraction and disguised to make voters believe regulators are doing something in the capital.

Hey Salem… we’re watching!

UPDATE: March 28, 2013 – The Oregon Legislature tried to pass a similar smoking bill (HB 2385) in the 2009 session.   And according to this report seven states currently ban smoking in automobiles with children under the age of 18 years old.  Interestingly, there are currently 17 states which ban smoking in vehicles while transporting foster children, including the state of Oregon.  The report provides a number of reasons to support smoke-free vehicles when children are present.

UPDATE: June 4, 2013 – The Oregon House yesterday passed Senate Bill 444 in 43-15 vote against the objections of some lawmakers who groused about it as a “nanny state” provision.  The bill will allow police to ticket smokers if the were pulled over for another offense.  The violation would cost $250 for the first offense and $500 for subsequent offenses.  The bill now heads to Gov. Kitzhaber, who has said he will sign it. 

Photo courtesy of Firestone.  Full Disclosure: As an aging blogger and survivor of smoking parents and lifelong non-smoker myself I’m sure the Smithsonian will be looking for a location to display my corpse.

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Senate Bill 805 - Bureaucracy In Action

I’m talking about the Oregon legislature!

But, I’ve gotten ahead of myself and should provide background on Senate Bill 805.

In the U.S., 78.5 billion eggs were produced for eating in 2010. The breakdown is that 2.5 billion were exported, 6.3 billion went to food service use, 24.8 billion were processed into liquid, dried, and frozen products and 44.9 billion went to retail.  There are 187 companies who “lay” claim to about 95% of egg-laying hens in the U.S. Thirteen of these manage flocks of more than 5 million and sell specialty eggs under other names. Cal-Maine Foods, the country’s largest egg producer, owns the brands Eggland’s Best, Farmhouse, and 4-Grain.  Oregon (2.5M) doesn’t even make the top 10 producer list (as measured by number of egg laying hens) and the top 5 egg production states are Iowa (54M), Ohio (27M), Pennsylvania (23M), Indiana (23M) and California (19M).  In fact, at retail, more and more businesses and consumers are demanding organic eggs from hens that are either cage-free (hens able to run about inside huge chicken houses but not outdoors) or free-roaming (hens have access to the outdoors for at least 51% of their lives (~18 months, but there are no regulations on the quality or size of the open-air space)).

It turns out the tastiest, healthiest, most humanely produced eggs come from your local farmer’s free-roaming small flock.  Eggs contain varying amounts of 39 vitamins and minerals—many of which don’t even make it onto the nutrition facts label. Some eggs are healthier than others and it’s really all about what the hens are fed, which ranges from corn and soybean meal to a chicken’s more natural diet: a blend of grains and whatever the hen finds by foraging the pasture.  Again, egg nutrition value is determined by the feed, not breed.

Oregon’s Senate Bill 805 (SB 805) provides hens with a few more inches of space for laying eggs, but may well cost the farmers (which will be passed on to consumers) who will need to purchase/prep for the incremental space mandate.  It’s hard to imagine given the current budget issues facing the state how this matter rises to the level of debating a bill that is largely being determined by consumer purchases of the best tasting eggs.  But, I’d like to congratulate the Oregon legislature for displaying so much intellectual honesty, storming the farmland and solving an issue that isn’t even a problem. It’s another “teachable moment” for those who went to Salem for a life-long political career to do nothing.

I’d bet a Grande Coffee at Starbucks that the next bill after SB 805 will be mandating the quality and size of the open-air space.  Maybe they’ll even look to mandate ambient noise levels so the hens can breathe without excessive sound…hopefully no flocks are near a highway where a group of motorcycles may travel as OSP will be ask to single out motorcycles and set up an EPA-compliant exhaust check point!

The point of this post is not directly related to the Oregon egg industry, but about the unending government proposals, rules, and regulations that affect or creep into the motorcycle lifestyle.  Today there is more bureaucracy about eggs/hens and the amount of breathing space.  Tomorrow it’s about how and what we ride and drive. From taking away off road land areas, to the Federal Register re-defining what is a motorcycle, to performance modifications, and denial of insurance benefits — everywhere you look there is a current or proposed law that will negatively impact all of us. Every day as a result of the current economic collapse I get reports about home foreclosures and short sales, but Oregon lawmakers would rather waste tax payer money debating topics on chickens vs. being “compassionate” to the residents of the state.  Is a chicken’s well being more important?

All this ranting and talk of eggs in the morning made me hungry.  Who’s up for breakfast?!

Photo courtesy of the egg industry.  Fun fact: Did you know that 300,000 eggs go to Peg’s Glorified Ham N Eggs on South Sierra Street in Reno, NV., every year, where they are transformed into heaping breakfast platters piled with hash browns and homemade salsa.

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Stop "Nanny" Bills

We’ve been told a number of times that Oregon legislators know what’s best for us.  They seem to have a motto of just ‘trust us,’ now go out there and have some crazy fun.  But govern that fun because there are a lot of well intentioned legislative bills that treat citizens like children incapable of making a good decision — called “nanny” bills — which in my view try to mandate common sense and are simply telling people how to live their life.

For 2011, they don’t want you to smoke.  Anything anywhere.  Don’t even think about driving with a pet in your lap or riding a bike with headphones.  And when your windshield wipers are on (happens a lot in the northwest) they want it mandatory to use your headlights too.  Yeah, legislators want to lower the boom on all these so-called questionable habits and are as busy as ever protecting us from ourselves.  In fact, 2,837 measures have been introduced since January.  Some read like duplicates and some contradict other bills.  Yep, it’s “March Madness” from Salem!

One of the more prolific sponsors is Rep. Mitch Greenlick (D) who after reading a bike safety study by OHSU decided to authored a bill that would make it illegal to carry a child under the age of 6 years old in a bike trailer (HB 2228).  I’m curious if he collaborated with Eugene-based Burley Design, who have employees engaged in the making of trailers for more than 30 years and if they see this as a job killer?   Not even slightly distracted about jobs, Mr. Greenlick also wants to require a prescription to smoke cigars or cigarettes and wants to add a special tax on soda to discourage its consumption (HB 3223).

The Legislative Counsel’s office says it costs $980, on average to draft and circulate a bill.  That suggests there is a $2.7M cost for the drafting and routing of the 2,837 measures for 2011!  While we can debate the actual costs and if a House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) is less cost, what isn’t debatable is the loss of productivity of the people put there to serve us and the wasting of the states time and money on non-sense bills versus working to grow the economy and create jobs.  Some examples of those all-important issues (and there are many, believe me) that legislators think face our state:

  1. HCR 14 – adopts Code of West as model of conduct in State of Oregon.
  2. SCR 3 – designates Border collie as official state dog.
  3. HB 2010 – requires public schools to offer students instruction in Mandarin Chinese if school offers student instruction in two or more second languages.
  4. SB 160 – creates offense of driver operation with obstructing animal (makes it illegal to drive with a pet on your lap).
  5. SB 805 creates offense of unlawfully confining egg-laying hen.

So, by now you’re asking how does this relate to motorcycles and/or transportation measures?  I didn’t read all 2,837 measures, but I quickly scanned them and below are the measures motorcyclists might be interested in keeping an eye on:

SB 948 Declares that data used to diagnose, maintain or repair motor vehicles that is created, collected or contained in motor vehicle is exclusively owned by motor vehicle owner.
SB 945 Prohibits manufacturers from selling or offering for sale, and other specified persons from knowingly selling or offering for sale, brake friction material or motor vehicles or trailers with brake friction material containing specific amounts of certain fibers or elements that are hazardous when released into state waterways.
HB 3579 Prohibits advertising that seller will value property being offered as payment toward purchase or lease of motor vehicle at certain amounts.
SJR 36 Proposes amendment to Oregon Constitution to allow revenue from taxes on motor vehicle fuel and ownership, operation or use of motor vehicles to be used by state police for policing highways.
SB 873 Requires persons 75 years of age or older to renew driver licenses every two years and to take driving test prior to renewal.
SB 845 Requires Department of Transportation to issue driver license or driver permit to applicant who has complied with all requirements for license or permit but does not provide proof of legal presence in United States.
SB 846 Directs Department of Transportation to adopt standards for bicycle trailers designed for human passengers.
HB 3504 Authorizes civil forfeiture of motor vehicle if person is convicted of offense relating to driving while suspended or revoked.
HB 3377 Authorizes photo radar in City of Salem.
HB 3513 Creates Ignition Interlock Device Program Fund and continuously appropriates moneys in fund to Department of Transportation to pay for installation and maintenance of ignition interlock devices for use by persons who are indigent.
HB 3483 Requires use of headlights when windshield wipers are on.
SB 767 Creates offense of unlawfully idling motor vehicle engine.
HB 3259 Directs Department of Transportation to provide photograph on driver license, driver permit or identification card to licensed private investigator.
HB 3250 Directs Department of Transportation to issue Keep Kids Safe registration plates.
SB 647 Increases penalty for driving while suspended or revoked.
HB 3149 Establishes standards for personal vehicle sharing programs.
HB 3141 Requires only persons under 21 years of age to wear motorcycle helmet while riding on or operating motorcycle. I blogged on this previously HERE.
HB 3072 Requires use of headlights at all times.
HB 3039 Directs Department of Transportation to erect and maintain roadside memorial sign under certain circumstances for police officer killed in line of duty.
HB 2738 Directs Department of Transportation to consult with Oregon State University Marine Mammal Institute when designing Gray Whale registration plate.
HB 2768 Adds driving while fatigued to offense of reckless driving.
HB 2749 Creates offense of driving while drowsy.
HB 2545 Establishes tax on motor vehicle rentals.
HB 2333 Prohibits use of studded tires.
HB 2507 Permits person to use mobile communication device while operating motor vehicle in frontier counties.
HB 2042 Permits person to provide Department of Transportation with odometer disclosure form for vehicle 10 years old or older.
SB 160 Creates offense of driver operation with obstructing animal.
SB 180 Prohibits Department of Transportation from administering examination for driver license in language other than English.

And sticking with that ‘cowboy’ code theme and applying it to the 2011 legislature… I’m thinking “big mouth, no cows” might be more appropriate.

Photo courtesy of Flickr

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Imagine for a moment you’re on a motorcycle trip during a beautiful August week through the Wallowa Valley.  It’s a broad corridor of grass, framed by big mountains and dotted with various ranches.  As the road climbs into the Wallowa Mountains you pass old growth forest and clear-running rivers then finally arrive at Hells Canyon.  You return home after the weeklong trip to find in your mail box a number of police photo tickets.  Huh?  At first you think it’s a joke, but then realize that Elgin, OR on Hwy 82 was the start of your Hells Canyon tour and you vaguely remember a police department, city hall and movie theater all being housed in a 1912 brick opera building.  You review the photos/information:

  1. Ticket #1: While entering Elgin rolling over a tread measuring system it was determined your motorcycle tires had insufficient tread depth.  $160 fine.
  2. Ticket #2: You stopped for lunch, utilizing the street side parking.  The automated parking meter photographed your 10min overstay.  $45 fine.
  3. Ticket #3: After lunch you make a note of the rough engine idle at this altitude.  The automated tailpipe emissions systems profiled the excessive CO2 via air sniffing microphones.  $210 fine.
  4. Ticket #4: As you departed town you may have rolled on the throttle and the automated noise camera recorded a 10 second video clip from a set of microphones and determined you offended the town’s tranquility level.  $377 fine.

You laugh and think that this level of government intrusion intervention is not possible?  Well think again.  It’s not if it will happen, but when.  For example in Germany, ProContour’s tread analysis system is being deployed and the European Union regulations authorize fines up to $160 if insufficient tread depth.  In Australia, Acoustic Research Labs have deployed the NGARA real time sound acquisition systems and excessive noise tickets are being mailed as you read this!  How long until an aggressive city government decides to roll-out these new revenue generating systems in a city near you?

Is this the price of technological progress or the ultimate “Nanny State?” Throw in a little city government enthusiasm to profit from the increased monitoring and….?  While we’re at it could we get a “bling” camera…I don’t know about you, but I get distracted when the sun catches all those spinner-wheels wrong.  It blinds me as I’m driving.

Maybe it’s time that I park my excessive carbon emitting loud tailpipes and balding tires at home and just invest in hearing impaired products?

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