Legislature should consider carefully before changing existing law

One of the first stories to come out of the new session of the state Legislature concerns a move to do away with the state’s anti-idling law.

Essentially, North Dakotans, we are told, don’t like the laws on the books that make it illegal to leave a vehicle idling unattended.

An Associated Press article set the scene this way:

“When the winds howl and the bone-numbing cold sets in, scores of North Dakotans willingly become lawbreakers by warming up their vehicles without being in them, ignoring a potential $1,500 state fine and 30 days in jail.

“It’s ineffective. The people ignore it. Let’s get rid of it,” said Republican Rep. Daniel Johnston, who is sponsoring a bill that would make it legal for people to leave their vehicles running unattended, amending a statute that has been on the books since the 1940s that no one can remember being enforced.”

The AP story cites several sources who deride the existing law, and apparently nobody is speaking up at the moment to defend the law which was meant to curb automobile thefts.

But hasn’t the law done at least some good? Cars are stolen all of the time; should we make it even easier for the criminals? And, as we have found out in the Minot area, taxpayers also pay for criminals’ mistakes. The law might indeed be unpopular but it just doesn’t seem right that the state would go from discouraging car theft to facilitating it.

Hopefully, additional testimony will be heard in Bismarck before a well-thought-out decision is made.

Perhaps this is a topic people want to weigh in on with their legislators when they are back in town and available to listen.

The Minot Area Chamber of Commerce Governmental Affair’s legislative forums will begin Saturday, Jan. 12, at the ND State Fair Center Norse Room.

The forums feature the 12 Minot area legislators. Participants can submit a written question to a moderator who then asks the question of the lawmakers.

Forums are also scheduled for Jan. 26, Feb. 2 & 16, March 9 & 23 and April 6. All meetings will be at the ND State Fair Center at 9 a.m. Meetings are subject to change depending on the status of the Legislative session.