Last edited: January 04, 2005

Three Bills

Richmond Times 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 arborists—those 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 cyclists—and the smaller numbers of injured helmetless riders—are 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 for—or better yet, abolish—the state’s "crimes against nature" law. Common sense and a respect for privacy both argue on behalf doing so. What’s more, so do—yes—traditional 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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