When the Berlin Wall was going up in 1961, it was called by the East Berliners in authority at the time the "Anti-Fascist Protective Rampart," as if its sole purpose was to keep us out of East Germany. Considering that the soldiers were on the inside of the wall with guns pointed at their own citizens, this was bold marketing indeed.
One of the legislative bills advancing to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law benefited from a little bold marketing as well. While nothing so threatening as machine guns or barbed wire was employed in its passage, this would-be law represents a loss of freedom and a waste of time and money worthy of a veto.
House Bill 32, passed unanimously by the House and Senate, seeks to lower the high school dropout rate by requiring the revocation of drivers licenses of sixteen and seventeen year-olds who drop out or fail to pass at least four classes.
We have been down this road before. A substantially similar law was found unconstitutional in 2003. No pass, no drive – as it was called – also was particularly ineffective at keeping teenagers in school. Past revokees under no pass, no drive found ignoring the penalty and, if caught driving, claiming hardship in court to be a successful strategy.
Under HB 32, the same will happen. In the best case, this bill threatens and then doesn’t follow through. At worst, it clogs classrooms with students who are there for the wrong reasons and clogs courtrooms with young defendants taking a free shot at gaming the system. Are these lessons we really want to be teaching our young people?
House Bill 305, the minimum wage increase bill, aims likewise to move people on to greater heights. It serves mainly, however, as a payroll tax raising device for local governments and as a disincentive to both employers and employees to expand beyond minimal productivity. In today’s competitive marketplace, motivated employees should be able to advance beyond $7.25 per hour by July 1, 2009 just by being more productive. With the new law, they won’t have to.
Senate Bill 10 creates a brand-new state bureaucracy for HVAC oversight. This is far better – and cheaper – if handled at the local level.
House Bill 50 makes all local school board members eligible for the state employee health plan. It passed both the House and Senate unanimously. In a time when more policymakers should be realizing that state employee health coverage is the biggest drain by far of our public benefit programs, we should know better than to be adding to the problem. Furthermore, creating career school board members – as the benefits are likely to do – does little to foster dynamic school boards at a time when we should be bringing out new ideas.
Senate Bill 23 is another that passed both chambers of the legislature without a single vote in opposition. This bill would subject a veterinarian to a fine of up to $1000 and a jail sentence of up to 30 days for refusing to treat an assistance dog without prior payment. Do we really want to subject our vets to jail time for this? As with most other unfair mandates, the best solution is to merely spread the cost among the good paying customers.
The Senators were afraid to oppose this bad bill and look like they were against sick dogs. Same thing in the House. Too bad none of them had the same fear of appearing to be in favor of jailing veterinarians for trying to run a business as they see fit. The Governor really should stand up to this one before it gets out of hand.
House Bill 509 would allow anyone with a commercial drivers license from Canada or Mexico to operate a commercial vehicle in Kentucky. One lone Senator voted against this. Terrorism concerns, anyone?
And House Bill 108 makes an appropriation to dole out tax credits for repairing rock fences. This bill passed unanimously through both chambers. Is it unreasonable to expect anyone to stack their own rocks without being paid government money to do it?
The bitter deadlock this year in Frankfort can be credited for us not having a great deal more bad legislation to grumble about. But all too often when the House and Senate find something they can agree on, it costs us money or risks our freedoms. While our lawmakers are huddled up figuring out their next move on last year’s vetoed projects and the current pension crisis, Governor Fletcher should be wielding his veto pen.