Secret of Lawmaking: It’s All in the Enforcement

Lawmakers are quick to DEMAND ACTION when circumstances change. But when it comes to encouraging citizens’ good behavior, sometimes the secret is in simply enforcing the laws on the books.

The law in question here is nothing crazy or outlandish. Code in our nation’s capital includes a law requiring citizens to shovel the sidewalks in front of our houses. Sounds good, right?

What’s crazy and outlandish is the enforcement mechanism. If D.C. residents don’t keep their sidewalks clean, the only recourse the District has is for the Attorney General to file suit against the individual to recover a measly $25 in court.

From local watch-dog blog DCist:

As [DCist] noted in today’s Morning Roundup, a bill being considered by the D.C. Council (PDF) would remedy the issue by allowing agents from the Department of Public Works, the Metropolitan Police Department and the Department of Transportation to issue tickets to residents and businesses who don’t shovel the walk. However, even if (or when) that law passes the Council, it certainly won’t make it out of the 30-day Congressional review for another few months. So until next winter rolls around, we’ll just have to hope that people can be guilted into embracing their neighborly spirit.

Washington has been talking a big sturm and drang about ticketing residents who don’t shovel their front walks this year. The conclusion individuals who pride themselves on responsibility should take?

Shovel your sidewalks, kids. D.C.’s taxes stay so blissfully low for a reason. If you don’t shovel, it’s only a matter of time before the nanny state — or nanny district — will most certainly find a way to do it for a cost more than it’s worth.