At first glance, it looked like the Nevada Senate went to the dogs this week.
In the midst of hearing bills that would reform the state’s pension system, eliminate prevailing wage requirements for school construction projects, and allow school boards to raise property taxes without a vote of the people, one committee heard a bill that would allow dogs in bars.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. James Settelmeyer (R-Minden), may seem trivial at first, but on second look, it’s anything but.
By allowing bar owners — not the government — to decide who (or what, in this case) is allowed inside a business, Senate Bill 105 returns a fundamental right to property owners. At its core, this bill is about letting bar owners decide what’s best for their businesses based on the market they serve, not on what government commands through force.
Nevada health department officials oppose the bill, citing public safety as the reason the government must prohibit dogs from entering bars. It’s likely it was this same argument that led to the initial regulation banning dogs from bars in the first place.
But obsessively nanny government isn’t necessary to keep society safe. The market does a fine job of producing sanitary and appealing businesses on its own.
The passage of SB105 won’t result in bars becoming inundated with rabid dogs, or bar patrons receiving beverages contaminated with K9 hair. That’s because bar owners are in the business of keeping their customers, and in order to do that, those customers must be alive and happy.
If a bar owner fails to sweep his floors or wipe down counters and as a result ends up serving beer laden with Labrador hair, customers won’t return and his profits will plummet. It’s in the bar owner’s best interest to keep a clean, safe establishment, so he will do that whether he’s ordered to do so by the government or not.
Opponents of freedom perpetuate the myth that anything short of government regulation is no regulation at all. Yet, when no government law exists, society does not descend into chaos.
Rather, the intelligence within markets creates an order far more responsive to public needs and wants than our lumbering government bureaucracies — with their one-size-fits-all statutes and rules — could ever hope to mandate.
Chantal Lovell is Communications Director at the Nevada Policy Reserach Institute, a non-partisan free market think tank.