Monday political ticker, nanny state edition
I got some good feedback from my analysis piece in Sunday's newspaper regarding the nanny-state legislation that Illinois lawmakers are busying themselves with over pension reform.
• EXPLANATION: A public relations person who does some work for Democratic Rep. Elaine Nekritz emailed me over the weekend explaining her House Bill 3255, which would require governments to give railroad owners 24 hours' notice if a parade route crosses their tracks.
The bill was inspired by a tragedy last November in Texas in which a train slammed into a parade float filled with wounded veterans, killing four.
Actually, I guessed when I first happened across the Nekritz bill that the Texas tragedy inspired it. And this inspiration does not at all take away from the point of my analysis piece – as I told the spokesman, filing a law in response to a single incident is "classic Illinois nanny-state", especially while our fiscal house is burning.
• ANONYMOUS COMMENTS: Local blogger Gus Philpott thought highly, in the story comments and on his blog, about Democratic Sen. Ira Silverstein's Senate Bill 1614, which would require website administrators upon request to remove anonymous posters who do not agree to attach their names and confirm their identities.
The bill is a month old, and is stuck in the Senate Assignments Committee with no co-sponsors. This is because it's not going to go anywhere, and would never survive a constitutional challenge if it did.
There are court cases and Supreme Court rulings galore that clearly establish that anonymous speech is protected under the First Amendment. For the record, both Common Sense and the Federalist Papers started out as anonymous literature.
So Silverstein's bill is toast even before it gets out of the starting gate.
Oddly enough, the language of Silverstein's bill comes almost verbatim from a bill filed last year in the New York State Assembly. That bill died in committee, radioactive and untouched, for the reasons I listed above.
Is there some kind of magazine I don't know about – a Good Housekeeping for busybodies – where lawmakers trade these laws like recipes?
Speaking of New York and nanny-state laws, I can't pass up today's news that a judge dared challenge the Madness of King Bloomberg:
• HAVE A (LARGE) COKE AND A SMILE: I let out a laugh and a sigh of relief when I read that a judge overturned New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's ban on large sugary drinks.
I laughed because, well, it was a silly law that will now help define the outgoing mayor's legacy. I sighed with relief because, well, how can King Bloomberg and his super PAC buy my Second Amendment rights if he can't even stop a street sweeper in Queens from buying a large soda?
Before anyone points out Robin Kelly's 2nd Congressional District victory that Bloomberg bought, put the spin aside and consider this: An anti-gun candidate won in a deep, deep blue district that is plagued by gun violence and in which the NRA didn't spend a dime. Sorry, but Kelly's win is about as much of a seismic change as it would be if a pro-gambling candidate won election in Nevada.
I don't even drink soda pop, but I think I'll splurge today and toast to Bloomberg's health, and to the judge who dared singe his beard.
• THERE OUGHTA BE A LAW: It was this time last year, right before Gov. Pat Quinn's last budget address, that I suggested raising badly-needed revenue by charging our state lawmakers for filing bills.
When pension reform fizzled last May and lawmakers instead voted to allow miniature horses to be used as service animals, I again brought up the idea.
With some of our lawmakers now focusing on banning lion meat and regulating colonics, it's an idea worth exploring, if only some brave legislator would try.
Senior Writer Kevin Craver can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.