Vail Daily editorial: Tire bill could help |

Vail Daily editorial: Tire bill could help

the Vail Daily Editorial Board

Given the political tone of the times, it can be something of a surprise when people of different parties can actually share an idea.

That seems to be the case with House Bill 1173. That bill would clarify the state’s snow tire and chain law requirements for winter travel on Interstate 70 between Dotsero and the Morrison exit. What the bill does, in essence, is impose the same requirements on both passenger cars and trucks between Nov. 1 and May 15. The current rules require trucks to carry usable tire chains during those months. For passenger cars, the requirement applies to “adequate” tires, chains or traction devices such as the Auto Sock, an easy-to-use cloth alternative to chains.

The bill’s sponsors are Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush, of Steamboat Springs, who represents Eagle and Routt counties, and Republican Bob Rankin, whose district includes Carbondale.

The two representatives seem to occupy pretty distinct areas of the political spectrum. Mitsch Bush describes herself as a centrist, but in fact tends to favor government-first solutions to many issues.

Rankin has been described by our sister paper, the Glenwood Post Independent, as a Republican with libertarian tendencies, which means he tends to favor limited government intervention in most things.

The fact these two found common ground when it comes to keeping I-70 open speaks volumes about the need to take action to keep the highway open as much as possible.

While the bill is making its way through the Colorado House of Representatives, both Mitsch Bush and Rankin have said they’ve had to talk about misconceptions or misinformation about the bill.

The main one, worth noting here, is this: This bill doesn’t establish checkpoints to look at people’s tires or in their trunks. Even if the bill called for it, the costs of checkpoints would be much, much more than the state could afford. Instead, this bill puts the onus where it should be — on motorists. Put simply, if your car closes I-70 during the winter because it doesn’t have the right equipment, you’re going to pay fines over and above the costs of insurance deductibles and tow trucks.

A recent story from Glenwood noted that Rankin has had to address his more libertarian-leaning constituents who decry the government telling them what they need for their cars. This one’s almost too ridiculous to address, but the government already requires all kinds of equipment to use a vehicle on public roads. Decent tires doesn’t seem an onerous a demand.

We hope this bill passes. It certainly can’t hurt, and given that I-70 closures cost the state millions every year in lost economic activity and a drain on precious taxpayer dollars to state agencies, we’re certainly willing to see if this not-terribly-intrusive law could have a positive effect. And we’re grateful that a pair of politicians has put good public policy above partisan haggling.

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