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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

HB 1087: Counties Get Unlimited Fine/Sentence Power... and Ex Post Facto Laws?

Now that the Democrats are no longer in charge in Washington, maybe the Glenn Beck club can turn their attention back to state politics, where the real battle against big government is.

Of interest: HB 1087, more questionable legislation from Rep. Mike Verchio and his West River colleagues (all GOP except for Sen. Maher). If I'm reading this bill right, HB 1087 expands the power of county governments in two remarkable ways:
  1. HB 1087 eliminates the current maximum fine ($500) and jail time (30 days) counties can impose for violations of their ordinances. This amendment sets no new maximum.
  2. HB 1087 allows "retrospective application" of county ordinances if non-municipal county residents face an "imminent threat" to health and/or safety. In other words, ex post facto laws: the county can change the law and come arrest you for doing something that was perfectly legal when you did it.
Now I don't imagine Lake County is going to start imposing life sentences for violating building permits. But there may be some naughty behavior on which counties need to be able to turn some tighter screws.

But I'm at a loss for coming up with a jutification for granting counties ex post facto power. The closest I can come: suppose Hyperion builds its refinery, and then the county commissioners see it really does turn the county into a barren, smog-ridden hell. They pass new refinery siting regulations, retroactively revoke Hyperion's permit, charge them a billion dollars to reinstate... but no. I can't justify busting anyone, not even the corporate raiders at Hyperion, for committing an act that was perfectly legal when they committed it.

Sponsors Verchio, Schmidt, and Kopp have been known to run with the "Citizens for Liberty" crowd. CFL is all about limited government. HB 1087 removes limits on government. What do Verchio et al. stand for?

1 comment:

  1. Steve Sibson1/20/2010 9:17 PM


    Are you sure that this is not reducing the scope of the current ex post facto laws?


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