Lycoming County, PA’s Washington Township wants local Amish buggies and their horses to change – in a pretty big way. From Pennlive.com:

ELIMSPORT – “Blatant discrimination” is what an attorney for Old Order Amish says about proposed ordinances in a rural Lycoming County township that would require horses on public roads to wear a device to collect feces and to have rubber horseshoes.

A third ordinance the Washington Twp. supervisors plan to consider Monday evening would require the registration of all equine-pulled carriages, buggies or carts operating on township or state highways.

The supervisors say they need to have them registered so the other two ordinances can be enforced.

The registration ordinance requires the placement of reflective numbers at least four inches in size on the front, back and each side of carriages, buggies and carts so they can be identified easily.

The ordinance does not set a fee but gives the supervisors authority to set one “from time to time.” There is no mention if it would be a single or annual registration.

Complaints over manure and the alleged public safety and health concerns are the reasons given for the diaper idea.

Road damage, which is a real issue, is the reason for the rubber horsehoes. Authorities note that this can create a safety hazard, particularly for motorcycles.

Here are the proposed charges for violations:

Fines for violating any of the ordinances would range from $100 to $1,000 for the offense. The minimum fine for a second offense would be $500.

An attorney representing the Amish calls this an “absurd and outrageous proposition” and that the civil rights of the Amish are being violated. He says the Amish are open to working with officials.

When I see these kinds of proposals come up, the first thing I think is that the local Amish and local authorities probably have a poor-to-nonexistent working relationship. I seriously doubt there is good, or much any, communication between the sides there.

There are 2 Amish communities lying at least partially in Lycoming County. I’m not sure which is involved here, but this is not a case of newcomer Amish clashing with the ways of a place that’s never seen buggies on local roads. On the contrary, both settlements have been in the area for several decades.

Amish horses leave manure on the roads in 500+ other communities across North America. The vast majority of Amish horseshoes wear standard metal horseshoes. And most buggies, outside Indiana, have no type of registration numbering – much less on all four sides of the buggy (which seems a rather ridiculous standard – double what even the most stringent states require of cars).

Amish in those other places for the most part get along with their local communities, via their own efforts or other arrangements. Perhaps they pay a voluntary fee to help maintain the roads, for instance.

So when I see this, I wonder, why aren’t these two sides getting along to where they can work this out without new laws being needed?

You don’t see these legal steps taken in the vast majority of other Amish communities. In many cases it is often the opposite, where locals welcome and accommodate the Amish, happy to have their contributions to the economic and cultural life of an area.

I’m not saying it’s necessarily one side’s fault over the other (the Amish in this case may have been uncooperative up til now, for whatever reason…or local prejudice might be driving some of the complaints).

There is a story behind this story, I suspect.

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