Lawmakers don't want kids driving after 10 p.m., buying cigarettes or climbing into tanning beds. ...
Teenagers appear to be a target for lawmakers this year; everyone knows they need protection from their own self-destructiveness, and they can't vote. Lawmakers cite safety issues, but a few, such as [Jodie] Laubenberg, are starting to raise questions about parental rights as several measures move through the Legislature.
They include a number of restrictions on drivers under 18, including no text messaging or talking on cellphones without a hands-free device. Legislators also apparently believe that no good can come after 10 p.m. They propose that those 17 or younger shouldn't be driving after that hour – a change from the current midnight curfew.
"None of us would want to target any age group, but 17 and younger are inexperienced and still developing judgment and are prone to danger," said Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, whose bill with the 10 p.m. curfew has cleared the Senate and is pending in the House.
"The Legislature continues to try and find the appropriate balance between good policies and parenting," Carona said. "Government couldn't and shouldn't try to raise their kids, but where and when we can, we should find appropriate measures to protect them."
House Transportation Committee Chairman Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, said he favors the restrictions on driving while texting or phoning for young motorists, although he's not sure the earlier curfew is going to win House support.
"While I know it's like we're attacking young people, it's really helping them," Pickett said. "It's not that we want to be restrictive."
Pickett's last comment sums it up, doesn't it? It reminds me of Ronald Reagan's famous quip that the scariest words in the English language are "I'm from the government and I'm here to help." Pickett is certainly right that it's "like" they're "attacking young people." That's how the young people see it, no doubt, and perhaps also their parents whose decisions are being usurped.
One recalls that when the United States attacked Iraq, President Bush said we were "helping" them, too. (Note to policymakers: "Helping" and "attacking" are not synonyms!)
Why it should be up to the government and not their parents whether a teen wears a cowboy hat or a helmet in a rodeo or uses a tanning bed is beyond me. As with many new laws passed each session, much of this falls under the heading (in my book, anyway) of "none of the government's damn business."