Posts Tagged off the deep end

Courtesy of Chris Herrod, A Whole New Flavor of Crazy Comes to the Legislature

I received via email a transcript (word for word as verified by the recording) of questions in a legislative debate.  This has to be one of the craziest lines of questioning I’ve heard in many crazy experiences with our state legislature.

The bill in question was Jay Seegmiller’s HB 82 which:

.    defines smoking;
.    prohibits a person from smoking in a vehicle if:
.    a child is a passenger in the vehicle; and
.    the child is younger than eight years of age and is restrained or is required to be restrained in a child restraint device;
.    provides that violating the smoking prohibition is an infraction and has a maximum fine of $45;
.    provides that a court may suspend the fine for a violation if the person proves that the person has enrolled in a smoking cessation program;
.    provides that enforcement of the smoking prohibition shall be only as a secondary action; and rovides that a violation of the smoking prohibition may not be used as a basis for or evidence of child abuse or neglect.

Now I can imagine a host of objections to this bill, beginning with a car is private property and the next logical step is to outlaw smoking in private homes with young children.  If I were a legislator I would probably have voted against this bill as being ineffective at achieving a public policy goal of protecting children from second hand smoke – frankly if your parents smoke in the car, they will also smoke at home exposing their children to second hand smoke.  The bill’s logic is obvious – a car is a confined space hence the child in question will inhale more of the second hand smoke than in a larger space – i.e. a house or outdoors.  While that may be accurate, the efficacy of the bill in combating the problem seem ambiguous – you can only be cited as a secondary issue – i.e. you get pulled over for speeding and they see you are smoking with your five year old in the auto.

So, what you may wonder was Chris Herrod’s line of questioning?

Herrod:  Uhh  I’m just wondering what do you anticipate people who are addicted to cigarettes, do you think they just won’t drive?  What do you think … How will this change their behavior? 

Seegmiller:  What we’re asking is not..we’re not telling people they can’t smoke whle in their car, but what we’re asking is when they have their children in their in a car, or if a babysitter has a child in a car, that they not smoke while they are driving that car.  If they do get a tremendous urge to smoke, just pull over and step out for a minute.  That’s a small inconvenience to protect the health and well-being of children.

Herrod:  And I guess I would ask.. I guess my follow up question is . Is it more dangerous for a car to be on the side of the road,  pulled off on the side of a side or is it more dangerous uh, for a child to be smoking… or be in a car where a parent is smoking?

Seegmiller:  Obviously you would hope that someone would pull over some place where it is safe.

Herrod:  But do you think that will be the actual, uh, behavior?

Seegmiller:  I don’t understand the question.

Herrod: will they actualy pull off simpy to the side of the road where we know that a significant portions of our accidents, and actually our deadly accidents are accidents where a parked car on the side of the road is actually hit.  or do you think they are automatically going to pull off to a safe spot?  If they’re in the middle.. there aer some sections of the free where theres are 20 miles between exits  uh, if they have an urge to smoke, uh i think they’ll wait for the next exit or will they just pull over to the side of the road?

Seegmiller:  I can’t answer that.  I don’t know how people will look at that.

Herrod:  Uh.. I guess I would ask the next question would be… uh.. are you fearful at all that this will cause some parents maybe to leave their children  at home just because they are gonna have uh, uh, a quick trip, uh,  to the store and leave their kids uh, at home, unattended.

Seegmiller:  No.

 Herrod:  Uh… See, here’s the problem that we have. Uh, Do you think this will extend a trip, uh, of somebody that is going to California or going through the state, will this make their trip to California longer?

Seegmiller:  I suppose it could.

Herrod:  K.  And statistically one of the major reasons for car accidents is drowsiness, so if you extend a trip you’ve actually increased the chances of an accident.  Here’s the problem that we have with this body.   Is many times this body has, uh, well-intended, uh reasons, but there’s unintended consequences.  And since we can’t answer, uh, whether its safer for a car to be pulled off the side of the road or safer to be in a car with somebody smoking… until those answers, those questions can be answered, uh, I don’t know if necessarily if we believe.. if we actually  know if it is gonna be safer.  I would strongly encourage you to not vote for this bill just because those questions haven’t been asked, and I am concerned that I don’t believe this will necesarrily make it safer for any child.

I had to read the transcript several times to actually believe Herrod actually said what he said.

Follow, if you can, his logic: a smoker might pull over by the side of the road to smoke and their car will by struck by a passing motorist and (or?!) a trip to California will take longer and therefore be more dangerous.

Truly, words fail.


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