When I first read the proposed legislation (H5457) to require all parents of young adults seeking their drivers’ licenses to take a course, I wondered why Rhode Island’s politicians presume the authority to behave like parents to every adult in the state. One could imagine House Majority Leader Joseph Shekarchi (D, Warwick) overhearing some parent giving a child bad driving advice and determining to solve that perceived problem by implementing a blanket mandate for all parents.
This detail in a related AP story, though, makes me wonder if the motivation might be a bit more politically crass than that:
AAA Northeast is backing the bill, which was introduced by Democratic House Majority Leader Joseph Shekarchi. The legislation describes the organization as a possible course provider.
The legislation requires the course to be free to participants — treating their stolen time as without value — and doesn’t explicitly call for the state to pay providers. Indeed, it says that if nobody wants to provide the program, it will cease to be required. So, maybe there’s some payment from the state, or maybe AAA will only provide it to members (effectively forcing people to join), or maybe it’s a little more innocent and just an opportunity for AAA to give a sales pitch to a constant flow of captive audiences.
It’s the fact that AAA is “backing the bill” that raises my eyebrow. Is this something for which the organization has actively lobbied? Is it some sort of payback for, say, supporting RhodeWorks?
As I mentioned last year, I was a AAA member from the time I started driving (25 years ago, tomorrow). The organization’s active support for RhodeWorks led me to quit, and finding it in bed with Rhode Island insiders who take their power over us as a marketable good to trade for cash and favors affirms my decision.