Thursday, May 26, 2016

Another state GOP end run — around local drone laws

Posted By on Thu, May 26, 2016 at 9:54 AM

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Imagine, for a moment, that you are a legislator working in Lansing. You're presented with a lot of information on what the voters care about. Some things would probably leap out at you: For instance, according to the Gallup Organization, out of all 50 states, Michigan has the highest percentage of residents dissatisfied with local roads, at 35 percent. Michigan voters of both major party affiliations are expressing fears about the economic outlook. It doesn't help that the way the state government has sicced emergency managers on cities, which resulted in the Flint water crisis, is driving doubts about the state government's ability to do right by its citizens, financially and environmentally.

What would you do to reassure people that Lansing's priorities are in order? What would be the single most important thing you could do?

Naturally, you'd introduce a bill to pre-empt local laws on drones.

At least if your name was state Sen. Tom Casperson, the solon who brought you yesterday's bathroom bill.  

We had occasion yesterday to criticize the way the state GOP just can't seem to let local governments legislate locally. Which is weird, when you consider all the chest-beating they've done about political powers reserved for local lawmakers and not the big, bad federal gummint. Lansing's Republican legislators have introduced state bans on local legislation on fireworks, community benefits agreements, minimum wage laws, and even plastic bags.

You may now add drones to that growing list. As Fix the Mitten's Nick Krieger points out, "There are no fewer than 13 drone-related bills pending before the Michigan Legislature. Just last year, the Legislature passed bills to prohibit the taking of fish and game with drones, and to prohibit harassing hunters and fishermen with drones. Drones are apparently a big problem requiring lots of legislative attention."

It's worth quoting Krieger at length on this topic:

State Senator Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba), one of the cosponsors of SB 992, has introduced a companion bill, SB 994. Casperson’s bill would establish a commission dominated by business and industry representatives, appointed directly by the governor, with the power to recommend rules and regulations concerning the use and operation of drones statewide. ... 

If Casperson wants us to believe that he’s serious about liberty, limited government, and local control, he really needs to stop sponsoring bills that would strip local decision-making authority and create new, unaccountable regulatory boards and commissions. 

See Krieger's entire post, which illustrates just how out of touch Lansing's lawmakers are with voter concerns, by clicking here.

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