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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Kate Knuth Co-authors the Defecation Proclamation

Representative Kate Knuth has gotten right into the swing of things in her wide-eyed, wonder filled, grown-up world of the Minnesota Legislature. With increasing regularity she is authoring and co-authoring bills that increase government spending and empower the government to intrude into our daily lives, just like Daddy did when he was younger.

One of Kate's latest endeavors, after co-authoring such vital legislation as outlawing non-compostable yard bags, is co-authorship of the "Rest Room Access Act". This landmark legislation will enlist the force of law in Minnesota to require business owners to provide access to their private rest rooms to members of the public with certain medical conditions or ailments.

This legislation could just as accurately be titled as the Sanctimoniously Hijacking Individual's Toilets Act. The pertinent poop buried within the usual language of bureaucratic crap flushes out as follows:
A retail establishment that has a toilet facility for its employees shall allow a customer to use that facility during normal business hours if the toilet facility is reasonably safe and all of the following conditions are met:
  1. the customer requesting the use of the employee toilet facility suffers from an eligible medical condition or uses an ostomy device;
  2. three or more employees of the retail establishment are working at the time the customer requests use of the employee toilet facility;
  3. the retail establishment does not normally make a restroom available to the public;
  4. the employee toilet facility is not located in an area where providing access would create an obvious health or safety risk to the customer or an obvious security risk to the establishment;
  5. a public restroom is not immediately accessible to the customer.
This legislation is bad on so many levels it is difficult to decide where to begin to critique it, but it does give some insight into how government command-and-control liberals like Representative Knuth think and operate. It's kind of ironic that many of the same liberals that decry "government getting into our bedrooms" seem to have no problem with government getting into our bathrooms.

First off, since when does any government entity in a free society have the authority to obligate one citizen to make his or her property available to another citizen? The rest room facilities this legislation regulates are the property of the owners, not the state. The owner of private property should be able to do anything he or she wants to with it, including controlling access to its use, as long as the action does not impact the rights of others. Why should the owner be obligated to pay for the cost of cleaning and maintaining the facility for the benefit of others? For you liberals out there, yes, property owners have the right to be insensitive and uncaring jerks without compassion or common human decency if they choose to be.

Apparently Knuth and the other co-authors of this bill are of the mind-set that private property can be commandeered for the "public good" at the whim of the government. What if someone "needs" to get somewhere and does not have a vehicle and can't afford public transportation? Can the state obligate a citizen to give another citizen a ride if they are going to the same place anyway? In the liberal/socialist/redistibutionist world of people like Representative Knuth the function of government is to satisfy the needs of the people, so don't dismiss the possibility out of hand.

Aside from the blatant intrusion of government into the rights of private property owners, the legislation is difficult to put into practice. This illustrates how uber-genius whizzes like Representative Knuth spew forth feel-good laws and regulations and then dump the messy details of administering the edicts onto unelected bureaucrats who then create onerous policies and regulations in an attempt to implement and enforce the stupidity.

For example, the act specifies that the "customer" requesting the use of the merchant's facilities "suffers from an eligible medical condition or uses an ostomy device". This simple statement alone begs several questions:
  • Does "customer" imply that the person requesting rest room access must purchase something or have purchased something from the merchant to establish eligibility?
  • How does the merchant establish the eligibility of the requestor to use the private facility?
  • Is the requestor obligated to present evidence of an eligible condition?
  • Would the merchant be obligated to examine and validate the presented evidence?
  • What if the merchant suspects the evidence is phony or does not meet the standard?
The "three or more employees...are working" clause also presents some problems:
  • Does this imply that union shops are exempted from this law? ;)
  • Can a business that is staffed by two employees and an independent contractor legally deny a facilities request?
  • In the three employee scenario, if one employee is on break (i.e. not working) can access be denied?
Miscellaneous considerations:
  • Can the merchant require a "reasonable" fee for supplies and facility maintenance?
  • Can the merchant require the access request be made in writing or require filling out a form that releases them from any legal action arising from the granting of access?
  • Can a damage deposit be required? If not, is the state willing to pick up the repair cost if the facilities are damaged or vandalized by a user with state mandated access?
  • Does the state indemnify the merchant against law suits arising from slip and fall accidents within the rest room facility or en route to the facility?
  • Who determines what is an "obvious health or safety risk"? What is "obvious" to some personal injury lawyers or OSHA lackeys may not be obvious to the average merchant or employee.
  • Can a merchant deny access on the basis that the facilities are "out of order" or "closed for remodeling"? Does he or she have to prove this if the "customer" challenges it?
I'm sure there are many other questions and scenarios that can be made.

If this crappy legislation becomes law, sooner or later lawmakers will get a complaint from some whiney constituent that they were denied access to a private restroom because of some perceived loophole in the law. Our legislators will then courageously bolt into action to "fix" the law with a load of amendments and additional regulatory language that will further trample private property rights with even more government intrusions. It's not far fetched to imagine that some day soon businesses, or even private home owners, may be required by law to provide access to their private rest room facilities on demand without exception when presented with a state issued potty pass.

With all of the serious problems facing our state today, do we need our "public servants" wasting taxpayer money and legislative time pushing crapper access legislation? It costs serious money just to even introduce a bill into the bureaucratic black hole when all of the documentation, administration, scheduling, copying, etc. costs are added up. Also, have you ever wondered why there always seems to be important legislation that needs to be addressed at the end of the legislative session? Although silly, laws like this one are dangerous in how they consume taxpayer funded resources and open the door to even bigger nanny state government.

Silly laws like regulating private rest room access are the result of electing silly and/or immature people to represent us. Maybe after Ms. Knuth spends some time in the real world outside of looneytoon academia she will acquire some practical perspective. She will hopefully discover that there are a lot of things that apply to the real world that weren't covered in professorial lectures and dry academic text books.

For example, as anyone who has been a parent can attest to, young children often need to use the rest room at a time and place that is not very convenient and usually on very short notice. On several occasions when my children were little I needed to get one of them to a rest room fast when there was not one readily available and was able to resolve the problem by politely explaining the situation to a store employee. Afterwards I thanked the merchant and usually made at least a small purchase even if I hadn't originally intended to in gratitude for their understanding and compassion. Imagine that! Even without the threat of a civil fine or an obligation by law most people were gracious enough to grant access to their private rest room based on nothing more than human compassion and common decency. What a concept!

Did anyone, even the most flaming liberal or socialist in House District 50B (are you out there, David?), vote for Kate Knuth in the hope that she would push through this kind of legislation? I think she may have said something about addressing the problem of illegal dumping during the campaign, but this legislation is probably not what those who voted for her on that basis had in mind. At lease I hope not.

Oh, well. Knuth happens.

Next year the voters in District 50B will have an opportunity to correct the mishap of sending Kate Knuth to represent us and to clean up the resulting mess by electing someone with common sense, experience, and competence.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kate is short on experience as this legislation reveals. However, like many, she must have experienced urges...she rules out of her own experience, it seems, limited as that is. Rolling on the floor laughing...this bootson 'journalist'is priceless and peerless in his humor, intelligence and perspective. Where did you find "Right Hook"...share his views with a bigger audience. Very timely. Very funny.

2/18/2007 10:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like Kate Knuth is a young women who really has her sh|t together!

2/20/2007 8:17 AM  

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