Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Priorities, state law edition

Alcohol tester rarely used:
Most Kansas residents convicted of multiple drunken-driving offenses haven't followed through on a requirement to get a device that keeps vehicles from starting if alcohol is detected on the driver's breath, according to the Kansas Department of Revenue.…

"If there was any other law where people didn't follow state regulations there would be a mass uprising," said Matt Strausz, general manager of Smart Start, which installs the devices in the Topeka area.…

People convicted of a second, third or fourth drunken-driving offense have their licenses suspended for a year. After serving the suspension, the offenders can obtain a one-year restricted license to drive vehicles equipped with an interlock device.

According to the Department of Revenue, compliance has ranged from 11 percent in 2002 to 32 percent in 2003. Last year, less than 18 percent of 1,736 people convicted of a second, third or fourth drunken-driving offense added the ignition interlock device to their vehicle.
The legislature has other concerns, though. A bill would force agencies to check immigration status:

Rep. Ray Merrick, the Republican speaker pro tem from Stilwell, hopes legislation he's proposing this week will jar local governments into more tightly enforcing immigration laws.…

Bill 2945 echoes federal law, requiring state and local government agencies to verify the residency of anyone applying for nonemergency public benefits, like food stamps and addiction recovery.…

Merrick said he's sponsoring the bill because immigration is a top concern of his constituents.
I have to wonder whether the people of Stilwell are really spending a lot of time worrying about whether children of illegal aliens are being fed with food stamps. They probably do worry about drunk drivers.

But I'd bet Merrick votes against giving more money and more authority to the government to enforce a law keeping people from driving drunk.

On the other hand, Merrick was one of the Republicans who did the honest thing and backed the repeal on in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrants and also backed stronger penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants. A bunch of Republicans were willing to punish children but not employers, and that's just wrong.