We knew trouble was coming when we learned there exists within the Oregon Legislature an entity known as the Joint Interim Committee on State Justice System Revenues.
You can be reasonably confident that any committee with "revenue" in its name has an unhealthy interest in your wallet.
And sure enough, one of the bills the committee introduced this year would both punish people for doing the right thing, and reward people for doing the wrong thing.
It's House Bill 2712.
It would set standard fines for a variety of traffic violations such as speeding.
The bill would prohibit judges from reducing fines for drivers whose
driving record is good enough to qualify them for a reduction, and who
also send a letter asking for a smaller fine.
As an example, the current base penalty for a Class B violation - driving 80 mph in a 65 mph zone, for instance - is $287.
But a judge can cut the fine to $216 for drivers with a clean record.
House Bill 2712 would set a fine of $260 for all drivers, no exceptions.
In other words, people who have a lousy driving record and thus don't qualify for a reduction now, would get a $27 break.
Good drivers, on the other hand, would lose the chance of saving as much as $71.
This is silly.
Drivers who avoid accidents and who aren't serial speeders should be rewarded even when they make a rare mistake.
These people save society untold millions in healthcare costs, police
and emergency provider time, even lost productivity from other drivers
who get stuck in a traffic jam behind a wreck.
Bad drivers, by contrast, add to those expenses.
We urge the Legislature to pass on House Bill 2172.
But the legislation is not without value.
We learned, from an article about the bill published in the Medford
Mail-Tribune, that just 14 percent of drivers cited write a letter
seeking a reduction based on their good driving record.
Come on, drivers, start asking for your discount. You've earned it.