Have we killed the "Republicans support local control" lie yet? If not, see House Bill 1177, in which a herd of Republican legislators attempt to stamp their casual attitude toward highway safety on every local government in South Dakota.

HB 1177, sponsored by Speaker of the House Brian Gosch himself, would deny any local government the ability to adopt any ordinances pertaining to distracted driving that deviate one iota from state law. Here's the new section HB 1177 would add to statute:

No local government or local authority, except as expressly authorized by law, may adopt or enforce any ordinance or other measure regulating or restricting distracted or inattentive driving by a person who is operating a motor vehicle on a highway if the ordinance or measure is contrary to or at variance with any provision of state law relating to such activity or if no state law relating to such activity has been enacted or is in effect.

For purposes of this section, the term, distracted or inattentive driving, includes operating a motor vehicle while using electronic communications devices or electronic messaging, consuming food or beverages, interacting with passengers, watching television or other electronic or printed visual media, or engaging in other activity that may interfere with the ability to focus on driving tasks.

HB 1177 looks like another bit of Republican grandstanding that belies the GOP's misunderstanding of the concept of personal liberty. These legislators seem to think that liberty means being able to do whatever they please in their automobiles. They ignore the fact that their behavior in their vehicles, as they chat away, engrossed in their telephone conversations as they make the long drive each weekend to and from Pierre, has impacts (possibly literally!) on others.

They also ignore their own purported fealty to the principle of letting local governments decide what's best for their own communities. When Republicans want to give school districts the liberty to hand out firearms to teachers, they're all about unchecked local authority. But if some mayor or county commission dares tell a legislator to hang up and drive or lock up his pit bull, it's time for central control.

The Republican Party is not terribly concerned about public safety. They definitely aren't concerned about local control.