I extend my sympathy to Rep. Rev. Steve Hickey (R-9/Sioux Falls) this morning. For the second year in a row, he proposed legislation to put speeding back in the penalty points system for traffic violations. Just like last year, his House colleagues killed his proposal, keeping our speeding laws lax, just the way serial speeder Governor Bill Janklow made them back in 1986.
Rep. Rev. Hickey's 2012 speeding-points bill made it through committee to the House floor, where it was defeated 30-to-39. This year's bill included the same revision to the points system, but Rep. Rev. Hickey compromised and removed the language he proposed last year to reduce the number of points you'd have to "earn" to lose your license. That gentler bill made even less headway, going down in committee on a 9-to-4 vote. Ron-Paulite Rep. Dan Kaiser (R-3/Aberdeen) was one of the nays on HB 1080... probably because he doesn't want any more laws that he has to decide whether to enforce or not at his day job as an Aberdeen police officer.
Among absurd points of opposition was Rep. Lance Russell's (R-30/Hot Springs) concern that taking away driver's licenses for speeding could cause folks to lose their jobs. Rep. Rev. Hickey made an unsuccessful appeal to personal responsibility:
"I don’t share the opinion of it being an undue burden on somebody that they might not be able to get a work permit," Hickey said. "It’s their own fault if they’re getting 15, 20 tickets a year. So what? They need to shape up. They’re a public safety hazard" [David Montgomery, "Hickey's Speeding Ticket Bill Dies in Committee," Political Smokeout, 2013.01.22].
Funny: I thought personal responsibility was a mainline Republican issue. Apparently it's not when the Republicans voting are a bunch of legislators who like to lead-foot their way home from Pierre each weekend.
The speeding-points bill may not be dead yet: Rep. Rev. Hickey is checking with colleagues to see if he has the votes to bring the bill to the House floor and pass it (the always enjoyable smokeout process). I wish Rep. Rev. Hickey well in his effort to hold South Dakotans accountable for their reckless behavior.