Whenever we consider the most patently peculiar legislative or political ideas, our minds automatically drift to the loony bin known as Washington D. C. To wit, presidential contender Elizabeth Warren just told an audience that she would not appoint a Secretary of Education without a trans high school student’s express written consent.
As the eminently logical Mr. Spock would say, “Fascinating!”
But sadly, bizarre political possibilities aren’t relegated to our nation’s capital. Illinois may not be as bad as some southern states in this strange legislative regard, but we’re not too terribly far behind, either.
So, let’s examine some of the more recent Illinois legislative initiatives that kinda boggle the mind!
Back to Mayberry?
In what can only called an eminently enigmatic twist, Oak Park State Rep Camille Lilly recently introduced the Gas Station Attendant Act, which would prohibit motorists from pumping their own gas.
As it stands now, with Oregon just loosening their law, only the state of New Jersey makes gas station attendants mandatory. Though I certainly remember those halcyon days when my father would drive over that black rubber hose setting off the requisite double dings as he pulled up to gas pump. The attendant would magically appear at the driver’s side window to ask, “fill her up?”
It may not have been quite as friendly as Wally’s Filling Station, but it was a close to Mayberry as Evanston would ever get.
But by the time I acquired my driver’s license in 1974, self-serve gas pumps were the rule in Illinois. So, most of our younger compatriots have never experienced the joy of having a gas station employee pump your gas and I bet that prospect would completely confound them.
Stung by the withering backlash, Ms. Lilly quickly got quiet, but when pressed, she explained that she introduced the bill to create more jobs. Only a bleepin’ Democrat!
If you really want to create some supremely spurious employment, why not have a pile driver truck travel down the major streets creating potholes as they go, with a repair crew right behind them patching up the holes? That abject absurdity would create jobs on both ends!
But as the criticism continued to mount, Lilly said she only meant to start a conversation on “convenience and safety issues at the gas pump,” adding, “This is not a bill I would move forward to make pumping your own gas illegal. That was never the intent.”
Oh yes it was!
This semi-comical effort reminds me of the time a Batavia Alderman voted against a second McDonald’s drive-thru lane because she wanted people “to stay in downtown Batavia a little longer.” My opinion column theory was if they let the air out of peoples’ tires, they’d stick around even more.
Only in Illinois!
Another bad idea
Not to be outdone, Naperville State Rep Anna Stava-Murray introduced a bill that would make using photoshopped images in a state or local election a Class 3 felony. That legislation’s synopsis reads as follows:
Amends the Election Code. Provides that a person is guilty of a Class 3 felony for knowingly using cheap fake (photo shopped imagery that implies a situation occurred that did not happen) or deep fake media (the use of artificial intelligence to create inauthentic photographs or videos of a person) in a State or local election. Effective immediately.
While Ms. Lilly’s legislative motivation tends to baffle me, I do understand Representative Stava-Murray reasoning. But the doesn’t mitigate the problem with her statutory theory that starts and ends with that pesky First Amendment. And the stark reality is, the U. S. Supreme Court would strike that statute down faster than a roasted ham menu option at a bar mitzvah!
Put more simply, this bill will never see the light of day.
But this one makes sense!
I have to say I’m more than a bit surprised that it’s faced the same amount of ridicule as Representative Lilly’s bill.
Citing noise and air pollution concerns, north suburban State Senator Laura Fine introduced an Environmental Protection Act amendment that would ban gas powered leaf blowers in Illinois, and conservatives of all ilk went completely nuts.
I had no idea they were in love their leaf blowers. Why, I haven’t had to deal with this much keening and garment rending since Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle introduced her soda tax (which was a really good idea by the way). You’d think some conservatives would understand that word is derived from “conservation.”
The truth is, those consarned things are louder than an idling 747 and the local atmosphere reeks for hours after their use. Evanston may not have banned gas leaf blowers outright, but they took an appropriate step by limiting their use to daylight hours during portions of the spring and fall.
The problem with Senator Fine’s amendment is it targets leaf blowers instead of the underlying issue which is the pollutant heavy two- and four-stroke engines generally used in all gas-powered landscaping equipment.
Those fabulous Edmunds car experts tested this theory and quickly discovered that a consumer grade leaf blower – not the pro variety – emitted more pollutants than a 6,200-pound Ford F-150 SVT Raptor. They’re so bad that some Indian cities are persistently enveloped in smog and draped in heavy soot as a result of two-stroke rikshaw engines.
So, I’m thinking there should be a national push to move away from these inefficient engines to something far more ecologically sound. Perhaps as battery technology continues to improve, that transition will occur organically, but limiting pollutants is never a bad idea.
The bottom line is a complete Illinois gas leaf blower ban will never fly!
I’ve saved the worst for last!
Though this one doesn’t exactly concern Illinois, in the truth is stranger than fiction department, Utah legislators are one small step away from decriminalizing polygamy for the first time in 85 years.
C’mon! Do we really need a law banning bigamy? As any red-blooded American husband will readily attest, we can barely contend with one wife, much less two or three!
It was in an old Beacon-News column where I first proposed the Ward-Kelley Postulate which still holds true today! One woman in our lives is more “happiness” than we could possibly bear and adding another would only compound that “joy.”
Remember that one my younger male compatriots!