Dispatch, January 26, 2001
Box 85333, Richmond, VA 23293-0001
Fax: 804-775-8072 or 775-8090
The big issues at the General Assemby are getting most of the attention, as
they should. But smaller matters also deserve at least some scrutiny.
Herewith, comments on three pending issues:
Has there been a rash of shady arborists doing a shoddy job of limb
lopping? At least one member of the legislature evidently thinks so. Delegate
Robert Hull has introduced a bill to require the licensure of arboriststhose folks who trim, take down, or give tender loving care to trees. Maybe
the bill should pass. Then maybe the Assembly can go after renegade teens
mowing lawns without a license.
On a more commendable note, Delegate Jack Reid proposes allowing adult
motorcycle riders to forgo the use of a helmet. What sounds crazy at first
actually has a defensible case. First, helmets do not necessarily provide as
much protection as non-riders think: A poorly fitting helmet or one that does
not allow sufficient peripheral vision can present a hazard. Second, the
helmet issue resembles the seatbelt issue: Both safety devices offer a high
probability of reducing injury, but adults should have the liberty to decide
if their comfort or sense of freedom is worth the added risk. Third, the
insurance-rate question is a red herring. The numbers of cyclistsand the
smaller numbers of injured helmetless ridersare too low to affect the
rates of millions of Virginia motorists. And if they could, citing that as a
reason to mandate helmets would imply government should control any behavior
that might affect premiums.
Once again the Assembly has the opportunity to lower the penalty foror
better yet, abolishthe states "crimes against nature" law.
Common sense and a respect for privacy both argue on behalf doing so. Whats
more, so doyestraditional family values. At present, oral sex
between consenting adults is a felony; soliciting for prostitution is a
misdemeanor. That makes it a bigger crime in Virginia for a husband and wife
to have certain relations than for a husband to step out on his wife with a
hooker. In fact, even asking someone to commit a "crime against
nature" is a bigger crime, as entreating someone to commit a felony is
itself a felony. Consider changing the law a defense-of-marriage act.
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