October 6, 2011 Leave a comment
I’m not saying we shouldn’t pass laws in those manners, even though I have a problem with administrative rules written by public employees (I also have a real problem with Executive Orders … Smacks of Monarchists).
I’m saying that all laws established in those ways should have a “Sunset Clause“.
I’m also not suggesting we mess with the Constitution. It has its problems (especially that three fifths part about African-Americans and not counting Natives) but, as far as I can tell, it says the Federal Government is just supposed to protect our borders and take out the garbage.
If we hadn’t strayed from that we wouldn’t be so messed up now. Everything written from then on needs to be reconsidered before being cast in stone.
We’ve got all kinds of laws on the books that are either stupid or outdated. In Portland, it is illegal to walk down the street with your shoe laces untied. In another jurisdiction it is unlawful to wear sagging pants. These laws are outdated and unenforceable. I’ve witnessed cops walking or driving past “violators” … are they ignorant of the law, or do they choose not to enforce them? If we allow selective law enforcement, we are all in for some hurt.
We pass all kinds of laws. They usually range from the idiotic to the insane, merely reactionary instead of responsive. How about every time a law is enacted, it has to be revisited at a pre-determined time in the future? All we need to do is agree upon some framework for reconsidering their worth.
Administrative Rules are written by some civil servant with no greater capability than being the one who holds a pen. They carry the force of law and are usually narrow in perspective, though tend to be extremely invasive. By the way, when they write these things you are constructively notified that you must comply, whether or not you actually heard about it.
So, for these types of “laws”, why don’t we require that they be reviewed by the higher authority and ratified or rescinded? In cities, that would be the city council. In counties, the commissioners and in states, the legislature. Two years would be a reasonable period. It would give enough time to judge the impact and then the elected officials would be on the hook for approving or disapproving the issue. If we can’t fire the government pukes when we don’t like their work, we can at least vote out the ones who have to review those rules if we don’t like what they decided.
Referendum laws are passed by the electorate. Usually they are issues the legislature failed to decide and they get passed off to voters for approval or denial. Some are placed on ballots by gathering signatures and many of those are eventually overturned by legislative or judicial rule. In the 90′s I co-sponsored a campaign finance reform bill that was passed by 3/4 of the voters, though I knew it to be indefensible under constitutional scrutiny. It was stricken down by the Supremes of Oregon, but it served the purpose of bringing the ire of the citizens to the fore.
Those measures need to be reevaluated every four years. If they stand the test of law, they need to be re-introduced to the voters to ensure the current citizens still support the issue. If circumstances or the populace have changed sufficiently to overturn the measure, it needs to go away.
Legislative laws are passed by elected officials and are probably as stupid as most any other way of rule making. Usually they become law as a deal between parties to support the interests of the folks who paid for the reps to be there. Federally, the lower house has to face election every two years and the senior every six. So, let’s look at those deals every eight years. That way we will have enough time to see how the law really works, business and citizens have time to adjust and plan, and candidates in both houses have to address everything every time they campaign. By then, we’ll probably find out how uninformed the idea was in the first place and most of the idiots who were involved in passing them will have been un-seated.
There are lots of stupid laws on the books that wouldn’t exist if we were proactive enough to take another look. I was just alerted to a Marion County, Oregon law that states it is unlawful for Ministers to eat garlic or onions before delivering a sermon and one in Portland that says it is against the law to conduct a wedding in a skating rink.
Let me here emphatically state that I have never walked on the streets of Portland with my shoe laces untied. I’ll check the statute of limitations on the onions and skating rink and get back to you.