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Lyons Calls New Headlight Law 'Intrusive', Files Bill To Repeal

Apr 08, 2015 04:23PM ● By Bill Gilman

State Rep. Jim Lyons, R-Andover.

(Editor's note: The following information was submitted by the office of State Rep. Jim Lyons, R-Andover.)

State Rep. Jim Lyons (R-Andover), joined by Rep. Shaunna O’Connell (R-Taunton), has filed a bill to repeal a burdensome new law that compels Massachusetts drivers to turn on headlights every time they use windshield wipers. 

“The drivers of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts can be relied upon to use common sense when deciding if headlights are needed,” said Lyons. "And that's what my bill does.

“Making your windshield wipers and headlights a moving violation is completely ridiculous. It looks more like another Beacon Hill money grab than a reasonable safety measure. And the penalty is particularly harsh on working families who will be assessed insurance surcharges in addition to fines. 

"That," Lyons emphasized, "is wrong and will place another financial burden on too many Massachusetts families."

“We need to stand up for the hardworking taxpayers.  Passing a bill like this during an informal session is why Massachusetts gets an F in transparency,” commented Rep. O’Connell. “This surchargable offense is a gift to the insurance companies and a burden on the taxpayers.”

Windshield wiper/headlight violations can result in tickets and surcharge points that count against insured drivers, hiking their annual auto insurance bills. 

The windshield wiper/headlight law was sneaked through the legislature during informal session. It was pushed for and signed by Governor Deval Patrick on his final day in office. "It's a sad but appropriate way for the Patrick Administration to come to a close," Lyons observed. "Governor Patrick hiked both the sales tax and the meals tax by more than 20%. Those regressive taxes hit working families the hardest. I suppose we shouldn't be surprised that he wanted to add one more penalty on his way out the door."

Commenting on the way the bill became law Lyons noted:  “This was passed under the cover of darkness with no transparency or open debate.  It is completely contrary to the spirit of informal legislative sessions. 

"Changes in driving regulations impact everyone," Lyons continued, "and such changes demand an open process and regular order. This kind of secrecy violates the trust that we have in permitting informal sessions to go forward.” 

Informal sessions are sessions that are held, according to the State House website, “to consider...  matters that are of a non-controversial nature.”

“No Massachusetts driver would call this intrusive law non-controversial," Lyons said. "And no family that gets hit with tickets and insurance charges will think this law is fair." 

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