Tea Partyers gone wild!

Gold, guns and anti-gay: State legislatures have become havens for the battiest Tea Party ideas ever

Topics: Republican Party, War Room,

Tea Partyers gone wild!

With the new Tea Party presence in Washington, a fair amount of attention has been paid to extreme legislation proposed by emboldened conservatives in Congress. But you haven’t seen anything until you check out what’s going on in America’s statehouses.

Earlier this month, news broke about a bill making its way through the South Dakota Legislature that, under one interpretation, would have made it legal to kill abortion providers. While that measure was, after a loud public outcry, shelved, it’s actually just the tip of the iceberg. From bizarre schemes involving gold to outright advocacy of nullification, state legislative chambers across the country have become havens for the wildest, most zany dreams of the Tea Party crowd.

Here are nine of our favorite proposals that are — we kid you not — actually pending in state legislatures today.

Global warming is good!

A legislator in Montana has introduced “an act stating Montana’s position on global warming; and providing an immediate effective date.” Under the bill, the Legislature would make an official finding not only that “ global warming is a natural occurrence and human activity has not accelerated it” but also that “global warming is beneficial to the welfare and business climate of Montana.” There is no elaboration in the bill on that final claim.

For the inevitable Massachusetts invasion of New Hampshire …

Several Tea Party favorites in the New Hampshire Legislature have introduced “an act establishing a permanent state defense force.” The bill allots roughly half a million dollars per year in order “to defend this state from invasion, rebellion, disaster, insurrection, riot, breach of the peace or imminent danger thereof, or to maintain the organized militia.”

The individual mandate … for guns



An act to “to provide for an individual mandate to adult citizens to provide for the self defense of themselves and others” was introduced by five South Dakota legislators. They are primarily trying to make a point about the federal healthcare mandate. But the bill would require adults to obtain a gun “sufficient to provide for their ordinary self-defense” within six months of turning 21.

Another Nullification Crisis?

At least six bills have been introduced in the Montana Legislature to nullify federal legislation. (Remember what happened last time we had this debate?) Among the proposed laws is “an act nullifying and voiding the federal Endangered Species Act in Montana. Other measures would declare healthcare reform unconstitutional and make it a crime to enforce federal gun laws.

Who needs the U.S. Mint when we have gold?

Georgia state Rep. Bobby Franklin, a Republican, has introduced the “Constitutional Tender Act” to require the exclusive use of gold or silver for payment of state debts. It would also require banks that take state money to accept and offer gold. But not just any gold. The bill specifies that “pre-1965 silver coins, silver eagles, and gold eagles” be used.

In South Carolina, meanwhile, a state representative wants a commission to study the creation of an “alternative sound currency” in case of a “breakdown of the Federal Reserve System.”

Because 26 constitutional amendments is just too many

A law proposed by immigration foes in the Arizona Legislature is designed to force the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit the meaning of the 14th Amendment, which extends citizenship to any person born in the United States. The proposed HB 2561 says that birthright citizenship only applies if at least one parent is a citizen or legal permanent resident of the U.S. Thus, the children of illegal immigrants would not be citizens of the U.S. (and, indeed, would not be citizens of any country if they are born in America).

No Gays Need Apply

The “Religious Conscience Protection Act,” introduced in the Iowa House in response to the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state, would make it “legal for an Iowa business owner who cites religious beliefs to refuse to provide jobs, housing, goods or services to people involved in a marriage that violates his or her religious convictions.” The ACLU of Iowa calls the bill “an effort to legitimize discrimination under the guise of religious liberty.”

Birtherism in Hartford

A Connecticut legislator last month followed at least 10 other states in introducing a birther-inspired bill — “An Act Concerning Qualifications to Appear as a Candidate for President or Vice-President on a Ballot in This State” — that would require presidential candidates to produce their birth certificate to show they are natural-born citizens. If passed, the bill would cover Barack Obama’s 2012 candidacy.

No more pesky gun-related questions from nurses

A Florida representative introduced “an act relating to the privacy of firearms owners,” which would make it a third-degree felony for a doctor or nurse to inquire about a patient’s firearm ownership. That level of felony is punishable by up to five years in prison. The bill was introduced after a pediatrician allegedly told a mother to find another doctor after she refused to tell him whether she kept guns in her home.

With research assistance from Teresa Cotsirilos and Justin Spees

Justin Elliott is a reporter for ProPublica. You can follow him on Twitter @ElliottJustin

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 7
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    AP/Jae C. Hong

    Your summer in extreme weather

    California drought

    Since May, California has faced a historic drought, resulting in the loss of 63 trillion gallons of water. 95.4 percent of the state is now experiencing "severe" drought conditions, which is only a marginal improvement from 97.5 percent last week.

    A recent study published in the journal Science found that the Earth has actually risen about 0.16 inches in the past 18 months because of the extreme loss of groundwater. The drought is particularly devastating for California's enormous agriculture industry and will cost the state $2.2 billion this year, cutting over 17,000 jobs in the process.

       

    Meteorologists blame the drought on a large zone (almost 4 miles high and 2,000 miles long) of high pressure in the atmosphere off the West Coast which blocks Pacific winter storms from reaching land. High pressure zones come and go, but this one has been stationary since December 2012.

    Darin Epperly

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Great Plains tornadoes

    From June 16-18 this year, the Midwest was slammed by a series of four tornadoes, all ranking as category EF4--meaning the winds reached up to 200 miles per hour. An unlucky town called Pilger in Nebraska was hit especially hard, suffering through twin tornadoes, an extreme event that may only occur every few decades. The two that swept through the town killed two people, injured 16 and demolished as many as 50 homes.   

    "It was terribly wide," local resident Marianne Pesotta said to CNN affiliate KETV-TV. "I drove east [to escape]. I could see how bad it was. I had to get out of there."   

    But atmospheric scientist Jeff Weber cautions against connecting these events with climate change. "This is not a climate signal," he said in an interview with NBC News. "This is a meteorological signal."

    AP/Detroit News, David Coates

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Michigan flooding

    On Aug. 11, Detroit's wettest day in 89 years -- with rainfall at 4.57 inches -- resulted in the flooding of at least five major freeways, leading to three deaths, more than 1,000 cars being abandoned on the road and thousands of ruined basements. Gov. Rick Snyder declared it a disaster. It took officials two full days to clear the roads. Weeks later, FEMA is finally set to begin assessing damage.   

    Heavy rainfall events are becoming more and more common, and some scientists have attributed the trend to climate change, since the atmosphere can hold more moisture at higher temperatures. Mashable's Andrew Freedman wrote on the increasing incidence of this type of weather: "This means that storms, from localized thunderstorms to massive hurricanes, have more energy to work with, and are able to wring out greater amounts of rain or snow in heavy bursts. In general, more precipitation is now coming in shorter, heavier bursts compared to a few decades ago, and this is putting strain on urban infrastructure such as sewer systems that are unable to handle such sudden influxes of water."

    AP/The Fresno Bee, Eric Paul Zamora

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Yosemite wildfires

    An extreme wildfire burning near Yosemite National Park forced authorities to evacuate 13,000 nearby residents, while the Madera County sheriff declared a local emergency. The summer has been marked by several wildfires due to California's extreme drought, which causes vegetation to become perfect kindling.   

    Surprisingly, however, firefighters have done an admirable job containing the blazes. According to the L.A. Times, firefighters with the state's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection have fought over 4,000 fires so far in 2014 -- an increase of over 500 fires from the same time in 2013.

    Reuters/Eugene Tanner

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Hawaii hurricanes

    Hurricane Iselle was set to be the first hurricane to make landfall in Hawaii in 22 years. It was downgraded to a tropical storm and didn't end up being nearly as disastrous as it could have been, but it still managed to essentially shut down the entire state for a day, as businesses and residents hunkered down in preparation, with many boarding up their windows to guard against strong gusts. The storm resulted in downed trees, 21,000 people out of power and a number of damaged homes.

    Debbie Arita, a local from the Big Island described her experience: "We could hear the wind howling through the doors. The light poles in the parking lot were bobbing up and down with all the wind and rain."

    Reuters/NASA

    Your summer in extreme weather

    Florida red tide

    A major red tide bloom can reach more than 100 miles along the coast and around 30 miles offshore. Although you can't really see it in the above photo, the effects are devastating for wildlife. This summer, Florida was hit by an enormous, lingering red tide, also known as a harmful algae bloom (HAB), which occurs when algae grow out of control. HABs are toxic to fish, crabs, octopuses and other sea creatures, and this one resulted in the death of thousands of fish. When the HAB gets close enough to shore, it can also have an effect on air quality, making it harder for people to breathe.   

    The HAB is currently closest to land near Pinellas County in the Gulf of Mexico, where it is 5-10 miles offshore.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>