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Editor's column: The laws and their unintended consequences
Each year thousands of bills are introduced by lawmakers in Olympia. As history has shown, many of these well-meaning bills have unintended consequences. For example, last year’s Happy Budget turned into this year’s Budget Deficit from the Jaws of Hades. Here are some of this year’s bills, their sponsors, and the possible unintended consequences.
Law: Failure to comply with seat belt and child restraint laws may be admissable evidence of negligence in any civil action (SB 5349, Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island).
Unintended consequence: So many children are taken from their scofflaw parents that the state has to build Homes for Unbuckled Children to house them all. Eventually, a red-haired waif inspires someone to write a hit Broadway musical, “Little Unbuckled Annie.”
Law: English is the official language of the state on all official matters and documentation. (HB 1645, Rep. Jim McClure, R-Graham).
Unintended consequence: Courts rule this law must also apply to legislators, who henceforth must give up gobbledygook, dodging and intentional vagueness, and speak plain English. When forced to say clearly what they really mean, everyone is voted out of office.
Law: Prohibits behavior such as smoking, loud music, littering and urinating while using public transit (Sen. Fred Jarrett, D-Mercer Island).
Unintended consquenced: Puts an end to all the fun on the 6 a.m. Island Transit northbound.
Law: Authorizes real estate taxes to be spend on heavy rail short lines (SB 5587, Sen. Craig Pridemore, D-Vancouver).
Unintended consequence: Island County and Port of Coupeville team up to build a rail line from Coupeville to the Greenbank Farm.
Law: Requirement eliminated that ferries be constructed within the boundaries of Washington State (HB 1652, Rep. Christine Rolfe, D-Bainbridge Island).
Unintended consequence: Kansas firm wins ferry bid with boat propelled by large rotating combine wheel.
Law: Authorizes a governing body or a public agency to record its closed executive session meetings HB 1679, Rep. Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam).
Unintended consequence: Whidbey News-Times obtains purloined tape, public hears sound of noisemakers, popping champaign corks, smooches and pleasurable moans.
Law: Allows for a city or town to annex county fairgrounds.
Unintended consequence: Langley annexes Island County Fairgrounds and turns it into a giant barn-and-breakfast.
Law: Promotes use of electric vehicles thorugh the creation of an electric infrastructure (HB 1481, Rep. Deborah Eddy, D-Kirkland).
Unintended consequence: Electric cars can plug-in anywhere, but tangle of long extension cords makes all roads impassable.
Law: Allows the Department of Fish and Wildlife to uitlize the services of a volunteer chaplain (HB 1437, Rep. Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup).
Unintended consequence: Hunters and fishermen can’t go home until chaplain administers last rites for dying ducks, deer and fish.
Law: Allows spas, wedding boutiques and art galleries to serve wine to their customers. (SB 5110, Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside).
Unintended consequence: State Patrol sees sudden uptick in number of people with clean skin, wedding veils and fine art stopped for DUI.
Law: Prohibits local governments from adopting ordinances that would forbid recreational vehicles as primary residences (HB 1227, Rep. Larry Springer, D-Kirkland).
Unintended consequence: Throngs of Whidbey Islanders abandon their homes for RV’s. Property taxes plummet, county government disbands, everyone lives happily ever after.