The Great Falls Tribune got its smarm on today in dissing Rep. Jeremy Trebas:
Somebody might want to pick up the phone and remind Jeremy Trebas that as a Republican, he’s supposed to be for small government and local control.
This type of rhetoric is always rich. The Trib’s editors are not Republicans. They’re just happy to give advice to elected Republicans on what Republicans believe.
The Trib is referring to Trebas’ idea, which he’s written about here, to pass a state law that would forbid local governments from playing nanny to Montanans who use cell phones while driving.
“Just as Montana lawmakers would cry foul if a ban on cellphone bans came from the feds, so, too, should city officials decry attempts by the state to overstep its bounds on this issue.”
So under this logic, what is the Trib’s limiting principle? What shouldn’t cities and counties be able to regulate?
Teacher accreditation? (That’s currently a matter of state policy, not local school boards.)
How about hunting tags? (That’s a state FWP thing, not local conservation districts or county commissions.)
How about whether a city gets to set up an electric utility? Well, that used to be a city power, admittedly. Maybe City Commissioner Bill Bronson would offer the same defense about the City of Great Falls’ history in that business as he offered in the Trib today about the cell phone ordinance:
“We spent a great deal of time studying this.”
The state took away the keys from city governments on that issue, because they simply could not be trusted to make that decision.
Cities don’t get to make their own special laws with respect to DUIs. They don’t get to make their own special laws regarding reckless driving. The state has decided that a uniform code that is generally applicable to drivers throughout the state is the better way to go. Why? Presumably because drivers — like teachers, like wildlife — are mobile.
They are less a part of a given city or a school district or a county, than they are part of a state. It makes sense to have a standard, to promote the concept that, unless there is a very good reason to the contrary, Montanans who drive from one city to another can live under the same set of rules everywhere in our state and not risk getting home-town’ed.
Zoning of property might be one thing. But is there really any argument that the streets of the City of Great Falls, and the people driving on them, are so different from the City of Kalispell that it should have a different set of driving laws?
We don’t think so.