A New Low For Bureaucratic Dysfunction - And Response

Friday, May 29, 2020

Forced emissions testing – a new low for bureaucratic dysfunction.

In our old way of living, there were two certainties: Death and taxes.

In our new world, the government is giving some relief from taxes but has chosen to substitute vehicle emissions testing. Now the two certainties are death and emissions testing.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is sickening and killing loved ones, state of Tennessee leadership has chosen to re-institute mandatory vehicle emissions testing in Hamilton County.

To be conducted in a manner that requires a “trained” inspector to enter the most personal space inside one’s car.  No they don’t have to get all the way in and sit in the driver’s seat, and yes they are going to be wearing their newly issued, just trained on, personal protective equipment. They are going to sanitize their gloves too,  I am told.

I presume they will be breathing. Inhaling and exhaling while they make this close contact hundreds of times each week. Social distancing? Slow the spread? Personal responsibility?

Every other act of “reopening” is voluntary. We can choose to go shopping. We can choose to sit down for a meal inside a restaurant, and we can choose to go to a recreation or an entertainment venue.

If one is elderly or immune compromised they can sit those voluntary activities out in favor of their more compelling concern of staying healthy, not getting sick and of trying to avoid hospitalization or worse.  All voluntary.

State government is only forcing one reopening activity on the elderly, afraid and immune compromised, the citizens who deserve the most protection.

That mandatory task of getting a $9 emissions test must be performed or the citizen cannot renew a vehicle registration, and the citizen risks involvement in a traffic stop by law-enforcement, issue of a citation for driving on an expired tag and a summons to appear in court, and to incur monetary penalties and court costs.

Whatever the state’s perceived compelling interest is enforcing this potential health exposure upon citizens, I submit to you that the greater, obvious and more compelling interest is that of a frightened elderly or immune compromised citizen to protect his or her health.

This bureaucratic decision is constitutionally tortured and obtuse. I don’t understand how our state leaders can be tone deaf to the obvious incongruity in what is being required under threat of police action.

Death and emissions testing. Order to be determined.

Michael Mallen
Health safety and environmental attorney

* * * 

I am in complete agreement with Mr. Mallen about the restart of the forced emissions testing. It was put off for two weeks only because there was such a backlash against it. 

I just don't understand Governor Lee and his reasoning behind this. And don't blame the EPA as the reason it has to be resumed. You're the governor, act like one and suspend this nonsense. 

Once again I have reached out to him without even a canned response from his office.  I was one of Bill Lee's biggest supporters but his handling of this is a complete slap in the face to many Tennessee residents.   

I renewed two cars during this time without testing. You can be assured that I would drive on an expired tag rather than subject myself to this forced bogus test. 

You want my nine dollars?  Fine, I'll gladly include that extra amount in my payment.

How much longer are we going to have to put up with this?  Death and emissions testing, indeed.

Dennis Wooden


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