Legislators should let veto stand on boat towing bill

Rarely have opinions of the legislature and the governor been so dramatically opposed as they are over a bill to loosen restrictions on the towing of big boats on N.C. highways. The bill should not become law until the disagreement over whether the change would endanger the public is satisfactorily resolved.

State law allows boats up to 81/2 feet wide to be towed during daylight hours on weekdays. Motorists can also get permits to haul boats up to 10 feet wide – but not on holidays or Sundays or at night. There were reports some fishing tournaments were dropping N.C. sites because the Highway Patrol was ticketing wider loads.

The proposed change would let drivers pull boats up to 10 feet wide any day of the week, and up to 91/2 feet at night, without a special permit.

The bill passed the Senate unanimously and the House 108-5. Then Gov. Mike Easley vetoed it. He explained: “I sincerely believe that this bill puts families at a risk on the highways and would result in death or serious injury. North Carolina has 60,000 miles of narrow two-lane roads that cannot accommodate the 91/2 foot width and maintains roughly 1,000 bridges 18 feet wide or less, which would require a 91/2 foot boat to cross the center line … into oncoming traffic. Further, if two 91/2 foot boats were to meet on an 18-foot strip of road or bridge it would be physically impossible to escape a collision.”

Bryan Beatty, secretary of the N.C. Department of Crime Control and Public Safety, said if the bill becomes law, “someone's husband, someone's wife, someone's child will be killed, and the governor and I don't want to be a part of that.”

Surely the legislators don't, either. They should allow the veto to stand and let the 2009 General Assembly thoroughly examine the safety issues.

Day 2: David in Denver

Waxhaw teen David McKee is at the Democratic National Convention with Junior Statesmen of America. Here are some of his impressions from early Tuesday:

“We listened to former Sen. Bob Graham … of Florida. He said that he has held 408 different jobs during his lifetime! Among his jobs was an MTV video for Jimmy Buffett. Sen. Graham has been a real jack-of-all-trades. I guess politics is the job that stuck .… We also heard from George McGovern, who ran for president in 1972…. He compared Barack Obama's speaking style to that of Abraham Lincoln.”

Read more at The Daily Views at obsdailyviews.blogspot.com.