Friday, May 06, 2005

 

Insanity alert: Buehrer bill would ban tax help, traffic news, safety warnings

Where is the Ohio media on this insanity?

Do you want to know what traffic accidents to avoid on your commute or your drive up the interstate? Do you want to know how to correctly fill out your Ohio 1040 tax form? Do you want to know how to protect your employees while digging a trench? Do you want to see how hospitals in your area compare?

That information is available for free from the State of Ohio. More precisely, it is free from the the Ohio Departments of Transportation, Taxation, Workers Compensation and Health, respectively.

But under a bill introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives, these and thousands of other free nuggets of information provided through State of Ohio's websites might vanish.

State Rep. Steve Buehrer's bill (HB 188) would prevent the State of Ohio and it's various agencies from providing "e-services" if two or more private-sector business exist that provide the same information.

For example, since H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt and countless other CPAs and taxpreparers provide tax information for Ohioans - at hefty fees - Buehrer's bill would prevent the Department of Taxation from providing free guidance on its website. Keep in mind that taxpayers have already paid for it!

Or consider traffic reports. ODOT has positioned traffic cameras all over Ohio's roadways. ODOT even created a special website to provide searchable road construction information, weather information and webcams. But since every TV, radio station and newspaper re-packages this traffic information and provides links to the ODOT cams, ODOT would have to scrub it from its web sites.

Or consider the new website that Jim Petro is so proud of that compares drug costs. All it takes is for someone to decide to start a business doing something similar - yes, the bill is so poorly worded that "similar" is all it takes - and the free info will only be a distant memory.

One would hope that Chris Redfern would have enough common sense to see that Buehrer has given a give to the House Democrats (and also to the moderate Republicans). And one would hope that the House provides lots of hearings on this bill to provide ample opportunity for Buehrer to embarass himself with this inane proposition. Let's see him try to defend this shit.

Plus, the bill would allow private operators who provide similar information to sue the state and collect damages.

is total insanity.

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