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Posts Tagged ‘Legislators’

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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It started out like any other routine day.  Up early, shower, comb the hair, brush the teeth, start up the automobile and head out enroute to various scheduled appointments.

Except on this day Marcia Brandon was guilty of listening to the radio as she fidgeted with the automobile controls and multitasked down the highway.  The preening on the road was a costly lesson as she drove distracted, lost in thought on the road.

Because on this day the 82-year old woman was cited by Oregon State Police (OSP) for driving 110 mph in a 55 mph zone on Highway 26 west of Gresham.  That’s correct 110 mph!  When the OSP trooper finally overtook the hulking Pontiac Bonneville and was able to pull over Marcia Brandon (did I already state she was 82 years old?) she stated that she wasn’t aware she was driving that fast.  In fact, she had no idea that the car’s hazard lights were blinking on either as she whizzed past other traffic.

Ms Brandon was cited for Violation of the Basic Rule – 110 mph in a 55 mph speed zone.

Convictions for driving over 100 mph now carry a mandatory minimum 30 – 90 day suspension in addition to a $1,103 fine.  Since 2006, with the stronger law and penalties, drivers traveling 100 mph or faster have decreased.  In 2009, troopers cited 298 drivers for traveling 100 mph or faster on Oregon highways, an approximate 21% decrease from 2008 (376 drivers cited) and 45% since 2006 (537 drivers cited).  In 2009 DMV noted 313 drivers received court ordered suspensions for driving over 100 mph, 366 court ordered suspensions in 2008, and 428 court ordered suspensions in 2007.

But, this isn’t my main point.  After a quick scan of the OSP site, Ms Brandon is in good company!  I’m alarmed at the number of age impaired driving accidents over the last 30 days and this is just a small sampling of the accidents:

  1. Roy Lester Shideler (age 82) – driving on a suspended  WA. license traveled into the ditch on Hwy 395 and was ejected from the vehicle and died.
  2. Irma Crumrine (age 81) pulled in front of a vehicle on Hwy 97 and seven people were injured.  All survived.
  3. Sandra Boehme (age 66) traveled across the center line striking a pickup which then created two other vehicles to crash.  All survived.
  4. Delia Le Blue (age 78) collided with a van making a left hand turn on Hwy 26 resulting in serious injuries.
  5. Clinton Deshazer (age 71) for unknown reasons crossed the centerline and collided with a semi-truck which resulted in serious injuries.

It turns out the fastest growing segment of the driving population are seniors who make up 9% (about 19 million) of the nation’s drivers. This figure is expected to jump to more than 30 million drivers by 2020.  Drivers aged 75 and older have a 37% higher crash rate than younger drivers, according to the Elder Law Journal, published by the College of Law at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  And with the exception of teenage drivers, seniors have the highest probability of death resulting from an auto-related accident of any age group.

Sure, age alone does not determine a person’s ability to operate an automobile, but evidence suggests that certain characteristics associated with aging impair driving performance.

I acknowledge that independence of senior drivers is very important and fundamental to maintaining our freedoms, but I’m not sure the state/DMV tests are doing enough for road safety when an 82 year old is licensed and feels empowered or unrestricted to travel 110 mph on her way to errands.

Why so many age related vehicle accidents when by law Oregon drivers aged 50 and up must undergo a vision test verifying they can safely scan and traverse the roads?  The testing must occur upon license renewal and every eight years thereafter.

Given the aging population trends there needs to be more done by DMV in validating an aged driver’s abilities.

UPDATE: October 26, 2010 – Just yesterday, Martha Lockhart (age 82, from Olivehurst, CA.) stopped near Toledo on Hwy 229 at the intersection of Hwy 20.  For some unknown reason she pulled out into the path of a semi-truck which was pulling empty pole trailers.  The collision flipped the trailers which in turn collided with a Chevy truck registered to Oregon State and was being driven by Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW) employee Tamara Elizabeth Wagner (age 52) who was pronounced deceased at the scene.  Ms Lockhart and the truck driver received non-life threatening injuries.

Photo courtesy of: The Incredible Hulk from The Super-Hero Squad Show, © Marvel Entertainment

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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A few weeks ago H-D management were passing out accolades to the Wisconsin legislators who were considering a designation of the H-D motorcycle as the “official motorcycle” of the state.  But, that has since turned into a game of “double-dog-dare-ya” or something along the lines of ‘playing chicken’ as the latest management salvo didn’t sound conciliatory, rather they dropped the bomb about abandoning the state and moving the company.

Huh?  Is the “Ride Home” dead?  Is Wisconsin truly at risk of losing the motorcycle icon or is this more of a psychological ploy than practical?  When ‘playing chicken’ someone is bound to get hurt!

Consider the Boeing Co., a huge part of Washington’s history and the threat of a move out of Seattle back in 2001.  Few believed, especially the Mayor or state representatives in Olympia.  The end result?  Can you spell Chicago?!  Several hundred employees were left behind when the headquarters moved.  It didn’t stop there.  With it’s continuing need to drive down labor costs,  last October Boeing announced it would open a second 787 production line in Charleston, S.C., not Everett which turns out to be more about negotiations with labor not further tax breaks.  Sound familiar to Harley-Davidson?

Wisconsin Tax Burden

Does Wisconsin’s tax structure drive Harley-Davidson business away?  By clicking HERE you can check how each state collects taxes and measures up nationally on tax burden, government spending and user fees.

Fact: Wisconsin ranks 14th in total tax burden.  Fact: Wisconsin ranks 26th in total spending by all levels of state and local government based on the latest figures (as compared with 20th in population, 24th in Gross Domestic Product and 24th in personal income for the same year).  Fact: A Tax Foundation study identified Milwaukee County as 22nd highest on property taxes as a percentage of a median home’s value, out of 775 counties nationwide.  If you’d like more detail, then reporter Dave Umhoefer of the Journal Sentinel researched and wrote a comprehensive article on Wisconsin’s tax burden HERE.

Will Harley-Davidson leave the state?  It’s a complex answer and in the end, H-D selects a location to move or expand into based on a wide range of issues.  One important issue is the balance between public services offered and the taxes levied to pay for those services.  Harley-Davidson management will likely ask two basic questions: 1) are the mix of public goods and services in a given locale right for my business; and 2) am I getting what I pay for with my tax dollar?  If the answer is no, then the state legislators further cutting business taxes will not have the desired result to keep them in the state.

If this is truly about labor costs and it’s tactics to renegotiate or obtain additional concessions from the union then it’s unclear how this riff will shake out.  Further fragmenting their supply chain doesn’t seem like a credible business case, but moving to a state like South Carolina would mean lower taxes, easing regulatory burdens in the state’s tort and workers compensation system and it’s a right-to-work state.  This might be the tipping point to make a change.

Photo courtesy of Double Dog Dare Band; WI tax chart courtesy of the Journal Sentinel.

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