Mississippi legislature

And the law-making process rolls on…

It is mind-boggling, all the legislative measures that are introduced each year at national, state, and local levels.

Yet another example of how far we’ve traveled on the road to a Big Brother society is the recent news about kids in Washington state being forbidden to use sunscreen on school playgrounds or outdoor field trips without a doctor’s note.

This has resulted in such absurdities as teachers applying sunscreen to themselves while sadly telling their young charges they can’t have any.

The reason? Because the federal Food and Drug Administration, in its bureaucratic wisdom, classifies sunscreen as a medication, and kids can’t bring it to school or use it without a doctor’s permission. About 500 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with potentially deadly melanoma every year, and cellular damage from a severe sunburn in childhood can trigger skin cancers decades later. Melanoma is the second most common cancer diagnosed in the 15 to 29 age group.

Washington state lawmakers, prodded by determined mothers, are moving legislation to override the federal rule and allow students to use sunscreen at school or on field trips. A few other states are considering similar legislation, among them here in the sunny South, Louisiana, Alabama, and Georgia.

Joe Raedle/Getty Imagessunscreen photo

Children in Washington state are not allowed to bring sunscreen to school without a doctor's note. Legislatures in several states are considering measures to allow kids to use sunscreen at school

Well, you may think, something like this shouldn’t be necessary; common sense should apply; it shouldn’t take a legislative act to allow kids the use of sunscreen. But in today’s complex society — when almost any action or non-action can result in a lawsuit — the steps taken to protect against possibly litigious situations multiply like wild pigs.

It is mind-boggling, all the legislative measures that are introduced each year at national, state, and local levels. In my state of Mississippi, in the 2017 legislative session just ended, 3,283 bills were introduced. Many were necessary to the state’s ongoing business — appropriations and the like. Many were resolutions honoring persons for community service, military service, sports accomplishments, or just feel-good pats on the back, such as the one “recognizing and honoring the impeccable customer service and economic stability that (company name) has provided to (county)…”

More than three-fourths of the measures ended in the legislative trash can. But almost 600 were added to the state’s legal roster, joining thousands of others from previous years (99 percent of the state’s population likely hasn’t the foggiest notion that they exist). Toss in all the rules and regs enacted yearly at the local level, and thousands more at the federal level, and you have a morass of legalities.

Many laws are submitted and passed as a result of someone wanting something, whether a determined mother championing a worthwhile cause or a giant corporation or business sector pushing for favors to boost profits (example, the pharmaceutical industry reaping billions of extra dollars by successfully lobbying Congress to forbid Medicare from requiring competitive bids for its prescription drug program — in the process contributing millions to the campaign war chests of cooperating lawmakers).

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