It Gets Lonely Voting No… 3

…But I will continue to do so because it is the right thing to do. For example, I voted against the Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho’s Legislative agenda, which included:

“1. Transportation Revenue
The COMPASS Board of Directors strongly supports increasing and diversifying dedicated revenue for state and local transportation systems, including transit and alternative transportation modes…

“2. Local Option Tax Authority Legislation
The COMPASS Board of Directors strongly supports general local option sales tax authority legislation. Such a tool will provide local units of government the ability to request necessary supplemental infrastructure revenue from citizens through a local option sales tax…

“3. Fifth Year Funding Approval of GARVEE Bonding Program
The COMPASS Board of Directors strongly supports continuation of the Idaho Transportation Board’s proposed GARVEE-related project and funding package…

“4. Transportation Access Plan Legislation
The COMPASS Board of Directors strongly supports legislation providing a mechanism for the Idaho Transportation Department Board, in cooperation with local planning entities, to define the access control standards for a given
highway corridor…

“5. Inattentive Driving Legislation
The COMPASS Board of Directors strongly supports legislation banning or restricting text messaging and cell phone use while driving a motor vehicle. Such legislation will address inattentive drivers using electronic communication devices who present a significant safety issue for other motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists….”

It seems the COMPASS Board, made up of county commissioners, city councilors and highway district commissioners from Ada and Canyon Counties, is intent upon finding new ways to raise taxes. I often find myself in the uncomfortable position of being the only Board member to vote no, because I believe it is the right thing to do, particularly in light of the current state of the economy.

I am not anti-government, and I recognize that government needs revenue in order to provide services; however, particularly during an economic crisis such as we are facing in this county, state and country today, now is not the time to figure out more ways to extract money from taxpayers. We taxpayers are better able to decide how to utilize those dollars, ourselves.

Now is the time for government to tighten its belt and feel the pain that everyone else is feeling due to the high unemployment rate and massive recession.

To clarify: I have no problem with the concept of local option taxes – the ability of local government to ask voters whether to tax themselves – for any reason, but with one caveat: local option taxing authority should be added to the constitution and require a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote to pass. Why the constitution? State code is relatively easily changed during any given legislative session. Putting local option taxing authority – with the accompanying 2/3 requirement – into the constitution, will make it unlikely the supermajority voting requirement would be watered down anytime in the near future.

Why do I believe a 2/3 vote should be required? Because if government wants to stick its hand into your pockets and mine and take our money from us, then someone had better be able to make a compelling enough argument to do so to 2/3 of voters that the reason for increasing government revenue is worthwhile.

As far as item number 5 on the COMPASS agenda regarding additional inattentive driving legislation, even Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney said on Tuesday that he is opposed to the concept because we already have adequate inattentive driving laws on the books.

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3 thoughts on “It Gets Lonely Voting No…

  • Bikeboy

    Sharon, as a libertarian-leaning dedicated transportation cyclist, I'm reluctantly in favor of specific laws banning both cell-phoning and texting. I used to be afraid that I'd get run into by a drunk driver… but I rationalized that since I ride during the day and drunk-driving tends to be at night, I was relatively safe. I cannot rationalize away the danger posed by people engrossed in their conversations – either on the phone or clickin' the keys. I don't want to end up being one of the victims cited by future debaters of the topic! (And I see people doing CRAZY stupid things when they're distracted by their handheld devices!)

    Laws are passed to protect citizens from irresponsible behavior by other citizens, unfortunately.

    Why doesn't "inattentive driving" cover it already? Because unless an accident is involved, it would be extremely difficult to prove in court. Therefore not many inattentive drivers get charged. Therefore drivers don't see much risk in driving inattentively.

    I'm with you on everything else.

  • Sharon Ullman

    Bikeboy ~ I appreciate your concerns and understand your position.

    In today's USA Today, however, there is an article that states, in part, "A national crackdown on distracted driving takes an unexpected turn today. A new study shows that the number of traffic crashes did not drop in three states and the District of Columbia after they banned drivers from using handheld cellphones."

    You can check it out yourself at:

    Another point to ponder: Have you thought about the fact that most police officers on the road today, who would be responsible for writing the citations, have a radio linking them to dispatch, a cell phone, and a computer within arms length from the driver's seat in their vehicles?

    It's a tough issue and the bottom line is that we all have to drive (and ride bikes) defensively and act in a responsible manner.

  • Bikeboy

    If it were only themselves that they were putting at risk (as is the case with motorcycle helmet or seatbelt use), I'd be totally in favor of letting people choose for themselves whether they want to yap-while-driving (with one or fewer hands on the steering wheel) or text-while-driving (ditto)… or even driving while intoxicated.

    The harsh reality is… there is a very high likelihood of collateral damage when you're driving that 3000-pound steel missile while either incapacitated or distracted.

    I know I'm just being selfish – but I hope I live to a ripe old age WITHOUT being immortalized by one of those white-painted "ghost bikes" at the side of the road.