Thursday, April 19, 2012

Big Brother In Motion - The Highway Bill

The transportation bill working its way through the Senate is a hodge-podge of pork barrelism and big brother intrusiveness that really ought to be defeated. Smooth sailing through the House is predicted. Of course it has the Orwellian name Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) aka SB 1813. If by progress you mean the IRS having the power to keep you from traveling, new black boxes for your car and rules to prevent a car from being built with a tv screen in the driver's view. (I guess they haven't heard of 4G and smart phones.)

It has an awesome purpose of course: To reauthorize Federal-aid highway and highway safety construction programs, and for other purposes. Of course, some of those other purposes leave us gasping. It gives me serious pause about my 2008 switch to the GOP.

Mandatory Event Recorders
Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall revise part 563 of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, to require, beginning with model year 2015, that new passenger motor vehicles sold in the United States be equipped with an event data recorder that meets the requirements under that part.

Of course there are all sorts of privacy protections for the data, which could be later repealed.

Revocation or Denial of Passport in Case of Certain Tax Delinquencies
If the Secretary receives certification by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue that any individual has a seriously delinquent tax debt in an amount in excess of $50,000, the Secretary shall transmit such certification to the Secretary of State for action with respect to denial, revocation, or limitation of a passport pursuant to section 4 of the Act. . .

So the IRS can deny you a passport on their say-so. We have seen politicization of the IRS for other purposes, even a "mix up" could be used to seriously impact someone with plans to travel abroad. How does this pass the due process clause restrictions in the constitution?

Here are some other gems.

Jason's Law.
It is the sense of Congress that it is a national priority to address projects under this section for the shortage of long-term parking for commercial motor vehicles on the National Highway System to improve the safety of motorized and nonmotorized users and for commercial motor vehicle operators.
Another national crisis brought under control by our ever vigilant Congress critters.

Striking a blow for federalism.

Open Container Law.
. . .if a State has not enacted or is not enforcing an open container law described in subsection (b), the Secretary shall reserve an amount equal to 2.5 percent of the funds to be apportioned to the State on that date under each of paragraphs (1) and (2) of section 104(b) until the State certifies to the Secretary the means by which the State will use those reserved funds in accordance with subparagraphs (A) and (B) of paragraph (1) and paragraph (3).

But we will mandate efficiencies by gum, here is the section on efficiencies in the bill.

Program Efficiencies
The first sentence of section 102(b) of title 23, United States Code, is amended by striking ‘made available for such engineering’ and inserting ‘reimbursed for the preliminary engineering’.

Yep, that's it, that's all the efficiencies we could get . We are awesome.

And because we have so many Chevy Volts on the road, there is this clause.

Electric Vehicle Charging Station
The addition of electric vehicle charging stations to new or previously funded parking facilities shall be eligible for funding under this section.

And while were moving forward for progress, let's not score the cost.

Budgetary Effect
PAYGO Scorecard- The budgetary effects of this Act shall not be entered on either PAYGO scorecard maintained pursuant to section 4(d) of the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010.

Reading legislation is dang close to watching sausage being made.


  1. Mandatory event recorders and confiscation of passports should be challenged with every fiber of our Libertarian souls.

  2. GPS event recorders would be awesome for tracking everyones travel (police investigations), speed (auto ticketing) and hooking into traffic flow monitoring systems!

    However, citizens who read legislation without the benefit of staff and proper legal training should be regulated by permits. In an information society, we cant have the public misinformed about public policy.