Enabling Legislation…Would Lincoln Approve?

I was reminded today while following up on some bills passed by the legislature of that old saying, “all government is local.” The reason I thought about this was because one of the bills passed by the Nevada State Legislature was SB 201. A summary of the bill reads:

AN ACT relating to taxation; authorizing certain counties to impose additional taxes on fuels for motor vehicles; providing for the administration, allocation, disbursement and use of the additional taxes; exempting the sale of revenue bonds secured by county fuel taxes from certain requirements; and providing other matters properly relating thereto.

In essence, this bill allows local government to decide if they want to raise a tax, and if they do, how that money would be spent. In my opinion, this is the kind of legislation I truly support. I’ve always believed that local government most often is in a better position to know how to meet the needs of its citizenry. This way of thinking is best represented by those in  Federal Government, who often earmark money that will be sent to local governments in order to fund or complete projects.

I used to laugh when I thought about a Congressman from the east coast deciding what was necessary for the citizens in California or Nevada. Do you think that Congressman knows what streets need to be re-paved in Las Vegas? Do you think that same Congressman knows what bridges need to be repaired on the California freeways? I would think the answer to both of these questions is “no.”

Former President of the National League of Cities, Clarence Anthony was quoted in 1999 by Government Tech as saying:

“I think there is a real recognition that the federal government has certain responsibilities, and what we ask as local-government officials is for legislation that the Congress and the president think should be law, that if they do pass it, there should be funds given to the local governments to implement it,” said Clarence Anthony, president of the National League of Cities (NLC) and mayor of South Bay, Fla. “There — and I’ve said this before — is a lot of great legislation that becomes bad legislation when money is not attached to it and it is sent down to the local officials to implement the effort.

I found Mr. Anthony’s quote very compelling considering the purpose behind SB 201. I’ve never thought that any legislature as a whole really know what’s best for the citizenry. I’m not saying that specific legislators are not aware of the needs of their district, but however a legislator in Northern California is not quite up to speed on the needs of Southern Californian’s. In Nevada, I’ve often seen that Northern Nevada Legislators are not keenly aware of the infrastructure needs in Las Vegas. Having said that, I support the legislature when they empower local governments to make crucial decisions on behalf of their constituents.

It may not surprise you, but Chuckie Muth, Nevada’s resident spin-mister and hate-spewing I cried wolf too many times wrote a twisted and mean-spirited blog entry about some of our Republican Lawmakers. So, I guess I have to set the record straight AGAIN and let everyone know the truth about this bill! What the passage of Senate Bill 201 did was create an “enabling” piece of legislation.

Enabling Legislation – legislation that gives appropriate officials the authority to implement or enforce the law legislation, statute law – law enacted by a legislative body
law, jurisprudence – the collection of rules imposed by authority; “civilization presupposes respect for the law”; “the great problem for jurisprudence to allow freedom while enforcing order”

I felt it necessary to provide this definition for those that think that SB 201 was a tax increase by the Nevada Legislature. Bottom-line, it wasn’t a tax increase, but an example of State Government empowering local governments–something I support whole-heartedly. While I have a lot of respect for state legislators and the work they do, I believe that my City Councilman and my County Commissioner know best what pot-holes I need fixed, and which street-lights are out. Local government, by its very nature is best suited to evaluate and react to the needs of its citizens.

Do you think Abraham Lincoln would approve of “Enabling Legislation?” I only ask this question because President Lincoln believed in smaller, less intrusive government. Not all government is bad however, and I think Lincoln knew that as well. I’ll leave you with a quote by Abraham Lincoln, that I believe all legislators in this country should read and familiarize themselves with:

“In all that people can individually do as well for themselves, government ought not to interfere.”

Monday, May 18th, 2009 Government

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