by Greg Walcher, E&E Legal Senior Policy Fellow
As appearing in the Daily Sentinel
There is a line in “The Music Man,” just after Harold Hill steps off the train, when he asks a local man on the street, “What do you folks do around here for excitement?” The stranger responds curtly, “Mind our business.”
Getting elected to the Legislature changes some people in a subtle way, because if they are legislators, then it must be their job to legislate. Many will dream up something to make laws about, and work to create new programs, even in areas where there are already laws. It takes a strong character to resist that temptation, to use the legislative power to fix problems rather than create new ones. I have sometimes felt like telling legislators to mind their own business. But alas, nobody ever says such a rude thing to anyone in government. Have we evolved to where there is no aspect of our lives considered none of the government’s business?
Nearly all programs are created with good intentions, often to address some tragedy where our instinctive reaction is, “there ought to be a law.” Not every sad situation calls for a government program, but sincere and caring people will react — often without fully understanding the situation, sometimes making things worse.
That is precisely what led a freshman Colorado legislator to introduce a bill requiring registration and taxing of all pets. Rep. Regina English, no doubt well-meaning, was concerned about abandoned pets, especially those left behind during emergencies when neither the owner nor any other “caregiver” could be found. Police and firefighters sometimes must take such pets to animal shelters, which are underfunded and have few good options for unclaimed pets.