Silly season starts

By Observer editorial March 07, 2013 07:48 am

A bushel basket of important issues face state legislators this session in Oregon’s capital, Salem, and Washington’s capital, Olympia — state prisons, the public pension system, education, health care, gun control, public safety, bipartisanship.

So what makes the headlines? What does Washington State Representative Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, a ranking Republican on the State Transportation Committee, hone in on? A tax that would require everyone who buys a bike for more than $500 to pay a $25 fee.

Orcutt believes that since CO2 is a greenhouse gas and a pollutant, bicyclists are polluting when they ride. 

What’s next? A methane tax on cows? Well, don’t say that too loud. It seems the cow flatulence tax is not so far fetched. Ireland and Denmark, among other countries, have begun taxing cattle owners on cow flatulence. It’s $18 per cow in Ireland, $110 per cow in Denmark. Happy cows, as advertised by the California milk producers, are said to give better milk. It’s not known if taxed cows, however, are happier cows. We think not.

The bike community, those who aren’t rolling on the ground laughing, are fighting Rep. Orcutt’s proposal. They believe bicycles contribute to a cleaner environment, and that regular bicycling cuts down on health care costs.

Sure, death and taxes are the only certainties in life. However, if the bicycle tax goes through, what’s next? A tricycle tax? A tax on candy bars?

Weird taxes have a way of popping up and not going away, especially when lawmakers across the country and around the world are looking for novel ways to raise money from tax-strapped constituents. Consider the nose-ring tax in Arkansas. Or the Alabama tax of 10 cents per card deck purchased in the state. Or the Maine blueberry tax. Or the Chicago candy tax.

The odd thing is, Orcutt in the past has staunchly opposed increased taxes on transportation. But in the silly season, expect the unexpected.