For a small-government conservative on the presidential campaign stump like Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a new federal regulation forcing farmers to get commercial drivers licenses
would make a perfect example of Barack Obama’s Washington run amok.
But there is no such regulation.
During his debut in Iowa Sunday night in Waterloo, then again at on Monday at the Iowa State Fair Monday, Gov. Perry brought up the phantom “obscene, crazy” regulation in Texan terms.
“If you’re a tractor driver, if you drive your tractor across a public road, you’re gonna have to have a commercial driver’s license. Now how idiotic is that?” he thundered to the fair crowd in Des Moines, with the rejoinder, “What were they thinkin’?”
Here’s what they were thinking. Earlier this year, the State of Illinois began regulating certain kinds of farmers as commercial motor vehicle drivers, a move that caused a lot of consternation in the Illinois farming community, seeing as it would require stiff new driving tests, periodic drug testing and other hurdles. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration stepped in to clarify whether the states had the right to do what Illinois had done, and on May 31, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued a public notice asking for comment on the commercial licensing of farm equipment.
Many in the farm community saw that notice as evidence that federal regulations were brewing, and the rumor went viral. That speeded up the process in Washington. Last Wednesday, the agency moved to put the issue to rest. The guidance the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration put out did exactly opposite what Gov. Perry said. It told the states “the common sense exemptions that allow farmers, their employers, and their families to accomplish their day-to-day work and transport their products to market” should remain in place.
“We have no intention of instituting onerous regulations on the hardworking families who feed our country and fuel our economy,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, himself an Illinoisan and a Republican, said in the agency’s statement Aug. 10.
Indeed the entire release appears calculated to put to rest the kind of rhetoric that Mr. Perry has employed this week.
“We want to make it absolutely clear that farmers will not be subjected to new and impractical safety regulations,” said U.S. Transportation Deputy Secretary John Porcari.
Um, Mission UnAccomplished.http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2011/08/16/perry-points-to-idiotic-u-s-rule-that-doesnt-exist/