Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Have car, will travel

Frank Bruni pens an article about the evils of state reciprocity:
Between deciding whether I should wear my sports coat or pack it, if I should go to the local airport or the one an hour away with cheaper fares, and trying to remember if I'd armed the alarm system, I thought I had this business travel thing down pat.
Well, not quite!!! Things could be much worse, especially if I had a vehicle operator's permit in my state, but wanted to drive around in some other state as well.
You see, my state merely requires that I pay a licensing fee and subject myself to the ignomity of proving I'm a resident. They might also require that I've never been convicted of felonious vehicular man slaughter.
Some states are tougher. They have different requirements regarding visual acuity, age, response times and recurring training required for the proper operation of a motor vehicle. Yeah, the rules are different in different states.
Thank the Good Lord Above for the Conveyance Association of Roamers, keeping a keen eye out for any Machiavellian institutions that might try to curtail the free travel rights of Americans.
The C.A.R is pushing a statute, the Diverse Roamers In Vehicles Extolling Reciprocity Act of this year, that would amelioriate the itinerant wanderer's concerns. Should Congress see fit to pass this bill, any state that allows a citizen to move from one place to another, regardless of the certification requirements, would be obligated to allow the citizen of another state to do the EXACT SAME THING, no matter the other state's rules.
Spike T. Wheel, C.A.R.'s chief spokesperson, recently said that the current legal environment "presents a nightmare for interstate travel, as many Americans are subjected to state laws that ignore the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution."
Nightmare? That could plausibly apply better to C.A.R, though it's not the first adjective I think of when considering their current agenda.
Contradiction, hypocrisy: those words rush in ahead. The bill thus far has more than 872 Republican co-sponsors in the House, many of them conservatives who otherwise complain about attempts by an overbearing federal government to trample on states’ rights in the realms of health care, tort reform, education — you name it. But to promote interstate travel, they’re encouraging big, bad Washington to trample to its heart’s content.
Imagine how apoplectic they’d be if, on certain other matters, Washington forced their states to yield to others’ values the way this bill, the D.R.I.V.E.R. act, would compel Oklahoma, North Dakota and Florida to honor more vehicle operator regulations from the South and West. As it happens these three states all allow 6-wheeled vehicles, which more conservative states do not have to recognize.
It’s not fair to talk only about Republicans. D.R.I.V.E.R has dozens of Democratic co-sponsors as well, and when Democrats controlled Congress for the first two years of Barack Obama’s presidency, they made no major progress on vehicle control. Reluctant to cross C.A.R., they let it slide.
In 2009, when Harry Reid, the Democratic majority leader in the Senate, was about to enter a tough re-election battle in Nevada, he actually voted in favor of legislation highly similar to D.R.I.V.E.R. It was defeated. That same year President Obama signed a law permitting vehicles in national parks.
The story on the state level has been just as sad over the last few years. Wisconsin recently approved expanded vehicle operator legislation, leaving Illinois the only state in which certain people can’t drive a car. Several states have enacted laws spelling out that cars can in many circumstances be driven to bars.
One was Tennessee, where a state lawmaker who sponsored the legislation, Curry Todd, sometimes drives a vehicle. I know this because he was drving it when Nashville cops pulled him over two weeks ago for drunken driving. They also charged him with operating a vehicle in public while intoxicated. At least that’s still illegal.
New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and several other states don’t have reciprocity arrangements that allow someone like Todd to drive a vehicle in their state. That’s because New York officials can deny vehicle operator licenses on a case-by-case basis, whereas many other states — South Dakota, for example — don’t put much stock in such scrutiny.
The D.R.I.V.E.R Act, now in the House Judiciary Committee, makes a mockery of our diverse values and strategies for public safety. If it were enacted, off to New York the South Dakotan tourist could go, Mazda RX-7 churning along..
That’s not liberty. More like lunacy.
Oh, wait. He got confused on his deodands. 

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