Mark Washburn

In My Opinion: Lawmaking is performed by a bossy lot

I don’t know how these things get started.

We are in the law-making season, that giddy time of year when all kinds of routine annoyances rise to the level of minor misdemeanors because the legislature is in session and needs something to legislate.

People who say “there ought to be a law” are usually wrong; our law books are bursting with unnecessary codes.

North Carolina’s legislators are baking up all kinds of things that can get you fined, jailed or scowled at by a traffic cop.

There’s some popular support for a new road-hog law that would target those who rumble along in the passing lane at a relative turtle’s pace. Something must be done, and some think a law against it would do the trick.

There are laws against speeding, bank robbery and bloody murder, and they don’t seem to do much to thwart the practices. I don’t see a regulation having any success at changing the driving habits of those oblivious to motorists in the mirror.

Even lawmakers aren’t exempt from getting laws made about them. There’s a bill afoot that would require legislators to recuse themselves if they’re sexually tangled with a lobbyist involved in an issue they’re considering.

North Carolina’s Ethics Commission recently ruled that having sex with a lobbyist isn’t anything that needs to be listed on those boring gift disclosure reports. Lawmakers need a law to tell them how to manage hanky-panky?

Of course they do! You’ve seen the people we send to Raleigh – shimmering specimens of sex appeal. Sleek bodies, sensuous curves, provocative attire, all with that little alluring something extra. That’s why legislative sessions in Raleigh have long been indistinguishable from spring break in Cancun.

Lobbyist: “I hope that we can count on your support in the Subcommittee for Infrastructure Renewal.”

Lawmaker: “You know how strongly I feel about codifying reflective materials on 2-inch bridge struts. Count on me.”

Lobbyist: “Oh, Darling!”

Lawmaker: “Sweet pea!”

They caucus.

Another bill would allow you to carry a concealed weapon to the State Fair. Who packs heat for the midway?

They’ve already got deep-fried Twinkies for those with a death wish. Is that not enough?

No, what’s good for the State Fair is good for the assembly’s chambers. Another bill would allow legislators to carry guns in the Statehouse.

We don’t need pistol-packin’ lawmakers. Let Texas do that. Remember what happened to Barney Fife.

People are all a-dither at Indiana, whose legislature passed a law that came under criticism for allowing businesses to discriminate against gays for religious reasons. A similar proposal is being floated in North Carolina.

How do these things get started? We respect religious freedom, but we don’t discriminate in public accommodations, period.

We don’t need a new law. We just need to practice common sense and common decency. And most of us do.

So let’s just leave well enough alone. Making needless laws risks lawmakers – particularly armed ones – shooting themselves in the foot.

Washburn: 704-358-5007;

Twitter: @WashburnChObs.

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