At a time when most people agree that there needs to be less government interference with private business, the East Liverpool City Council voted to assert its influence where it wasn't needed. Fortunately, however, Mayor Jim Swoger stepped in with a veto.
City Council Monday night enacted legislation mandating that gas stations require customers to pre-pay for their gasoline. While council's motive to protect station employees from having to pay for drive-offs is commendable, it is not a governmental entity's place to legislate how private business operates.
If council really wanted to protect employees, why not just enact a law prohibiting gas station owners from penalizing their workers for customers' criminal behavior? However, this too, would be unwarranted government interference.
While council seems to think this legislation will make less work for police officers, the question arises: Who is going to enforce this new law, monitor the businesses and assess the $500 fines against those who fail to comply? That's right, the police, and then the court system will also be brought into it, at even more expense to the city.
Swoger admitted that the police department's current investigation into gas station drive-offs is relatively brief, mostly consisting of a phone call to the police station followed by a report being written and then logged.
While Mayor Swoger's reason for a veto was to allow public input, particularly from gas station owners, on the law, we believe the legislation should be spiked regardless.
It is not the city's place to impose laws on individual businesses, unless it is done to preserve the public safety.
Better to just let businesses protect their own employees and impose their own payment policies.