There's a fundamental problem with democracy, especially at the state level: If you elect people to make laws, they may actually try to do it.
And those proposed laws won't necessarily address the serious problems facing the state. Sometimes, they just let a lawmaker get something off his or her chest.
That was the case last year, when state Sen. Donald Norcross, D-Camden, tried to increase penalties for motorists who fail to get out of the left-hand lane to make way for drivers who are violating the speed limit.
And it's the case now with a bill to ban the construction of jughandles. That measure cleared the state Senate Transportation Committee on Monday.
Jughandles - right-hand lanes that loop around and allow drivers to make left-hand turns at intersections - are so ubiquitous on New Jersey roads that they are sometimes called the "Jersey left." They can be especially baffling for visitors who are unfamiliar with the concept of going right to turn left.
Like other parts of New Jersey's infrastructure, many of the state's jughandles simply weren't built for the volumes of traffic they now handle. Sleepy country roads have become major conduits from suburban developments to highways, and a driver in a jughandle sometimes has to wait through more than one light to enter the crossing road at the intersection.
State Sen. James Holzapfel, R-Ocean, hates that experience so much that he has introduced a bill banning jughandles every two years since 2003.
Describing them as "my personal hell," Holzapfel wants to prevent any more jughandles from being built. He says, "There's got to be a better way."
The same phrase might be used to describe Holzapfel's legislation. There's nothing wrong with trying to find a better alternative where jughandles aren't working efficiently. But banning all jughandles?
Without them, traffic engineers say, the cars that now are diverted by them would back up in passing lanes and spill into traffic lanes. And the state just doesn't have enough money to build an overpass at every new intersection.
But the real problem with this bill is that there are serious problems that need to be solved in New Jersey. If any state legislators need a list, they might start with crushing property taxes, a serious state revenue shortfall and a looming public employee pension crisis that was delayed but not solved by recent reforms.
Unfortunately, we all know we'll continue to see lawmakers waste time on silly proposals such as a jughandle ban instead of working together to address real issues.
There ought to be a law.