Just What John Hickenlooper Wants: “Crash Tax” Back in National Headlines

Earlier this week Fox News’ Ed Barnes featured a story, “Accident Victims Being Hit Again — With ‘Crash Taxes’.” You know what I’m talking about, the ordinances adopted in some cities to impose fines on non-resident motorists for getting in an accident. It’s become a growing trend nationally, as tax revenues have taken a hit during the current recession.

As Barnes details, sometimes municipalities contract with debt collection services to go after accident victims for money:

The bills can be huge. A simple response to an accident usually costs just less than $500, but the bottom line can quickly soar. In Florida, if a fire chief shows up at your accident, it’ll cost you an extra $200 an hour. Need a Jaws of Life rescue in Sacramento, Calif.? Add $1,875. In Chico, Calif., going into a ditch could cost as much as your car, because a complex rescue goes for $2,000 an hour, plus $50 per hour for each rescue worker. And if there is gas or oil to clean up, the hazmat team will bill another $100 per hour per team member. In San Francisco an ambulance ride will cost $1,642 under a new proposal there. A Pennsylvania man recently complained that his bill for an accident on his motorcycle included charges for “mops and brooms.”

Interestingly, many municipal ordinances really only allow them to collect from insurance companies, but it isn’t likely the debt collection service will volunteer that information.

Now you know why Denver mayor and Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Hickenlooper eventually put the kibosh on Denver’s crash tax plan and ran away from the issue — after Complete Colorado’s Todd Shepherd shined a light on his attempt to govern by retribution. (And thank goodness Todd did, or perish the thought of wrecking your car in Denver city limits.)

Still, John Hickenlooper can’t hide his tax-raising inclinations, even if he can be all over the place on energy policy. Of course, there still are some other lingering unpleasant issues for John Hickenlooper to address, as well.

Yet given the state of play, it looks like the Democratic nominee just might be able to take the ball and kill the clock. Which means Hick at least needs a fiscally-conservative Republican legislature to help balance these undesirable tendencies. Insights on state legislative races coming soon…. (Like the segue?)

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