Legislature must keep up with moral failings

Saturday, September 29, 2007

There's a popular cliché about how "you can't legislate morality," but the fact is, legislating morality is exactly what lawmakers have to try.

They certainly can't cover every eventuality, of course.

Such is the case of certain gas stations in North Platte, Lexington and Ogallala, where "legal" activities certainly were deceptive to the point of immorality.

Approaching the intersection of U.S. Highway 83 and Interstate 80, drivers found large, flashing signs advertising gasoline at prices considerably below the going price.

Yes, one pump actually could deliver the fuel at the advertised price, albeit an ethanol blend.

But drivers who weren't alert could find their tanks filled with gasoline some 30 cents higher than what was available at other nearby stations.

The situation went on for years, with Attorney General Jon Bruning first saying that the practice was technically legal, but later launched an investigation and declared that it probably broke a state law barring deceptive advertising.

This week, while not admitting to any wrongdoing, the owner agreed to pay $15,000 to the North Platte Area Children's Museum, the North Platte Community Playhouse and the North Platte United Way. He also agreed to make minor changes in advertising Bruning judged to be deceptive.

Deceptive indeed. The crime is that it took so long to reach any kind of resolution. Until unscrupulous business people develop some kind moral compass of their own, it will be up to the Unicameral to legislate morality, and to the judicial branch to enforce it.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: