In Missouri, it would be a felony to propose gun control. Oklahoma wants to protect students from science. Really
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal wants Republicans to stop being the stupid party — but apparently the memo hasn’t gotten out to state legislatures around the country.
February has been a banner month for truly silly and anti-intellectual bills in state capitals across the country. Well, mostly across the South and Midwest. Some of these bills are based on the idea that birth control is poison, and that students should not fail for arguing in biology class that dinosaurs and humans coexisted. Others would stop gun control efforts by making it a felony to try to enact gun control.
This is not the Onion: Here are some of the actual proposals.
1. Let corporations vote!
In Montana, state Rep. Steve Lavin introduced a bill that would allow corporations to vote in local elections, taking the idea that “corporations are people” to new heights.
Think Progress reports that the bill was tabled earlier this month. But under the proposal, “if a firm, partnership, company, or corporation owns real property within the municipality, the president, vice president, secretary, or other designee of the entity is eligible to vote.”
2. Criminalize gun control!
In Missouri, state Rep. Mike Leara believes even proposing gun control should be illegal. So he has proposed legislation that would make it a felony for “any member of the general assembly who proposes a piece of legislation that further restricts the right of an individual to bear arms, as set forth under the second amendment of the Constitution of the United States.”
“I filed HB 633 as a matter of principle and as a statement in defense of the Second Amendment rights of all Missourians,” Leara told Buzzfeed. “I have no illusions about the bill making it through the legislative process, but I want it to be clear that the Missouri House will stand in defense of the people’s Constitutional right to keep and bear arms.”
3. Birth control is poison
The full state Senate in Oklahoma will take up a measure to allow companies to strip birth control and abortion coverage from employer healthcare plans under a bill that unanimously cleared the committee level last week.
“Notwithstanding any other provision of state or federal law, no employer shall be required to provide or pay for any benefit or service related to abortion or contraception through the provision of health insurance to his or her employees,” the bill reads.
That would put the law in conflict with the Obamacare provision that mandates contraception coverage in employee group insurance plans, unless the company in question meets the religious organization that qualifies for an exemption.
The state senator who proposed the bill said the idea came from one of his constituents, identified as Dr. Dominic Pedulla. The Tulsa World calls him “an Oklahoma City cardiologist who describes himself as a natural family planning medical consultant and women’s health researcher.” He told the paper he stopped offering his insurance plan because it required contraception coverage.
“Part of (women’s) identity is the potential to be a mother,” Pedulla said. “They are being asked to suppress and radically contradict part of their own identity, and if that wasn’t bad enough, they are being asked to poison their bodies.”
4. Read Ayn Rand or stay in high school
The chairman of the education committee in Idaho’s Senate introduced a bill earlier this month that would make students read — and pass a test — on “Atlas Shrugged” as a requirement for a high school diploma.
Then he backed away from the bill, saying he was just trying to make a point. The senator, John Goedde, told the Idaho Spokesman-Review he was “sending a message to the State Board of Education, because he’s unhappy with its recent move to repeal a rule requiring two online courses to graduate from high school, and with its decision to back off on another planned rule regarding principal evaluations.”
Why that book? It “made my son a Republican,” he said, then adding, “well, he’s not a practicing Republican. But it certainly made him a conservative.”
5. Meanwhile, make the teachers question science
In Kansas, the state Board of Education will vote on new science standards this year, so the legislative jockeying has begun. A bill before the House Education Committee would make schools include evidence against climate change in science classes.
According to the bill, science teachers would be required to “provide information to students of scientific evidence which both supports and counters a scientific theory or hypothesis.”
As the Topeka Capital Journal notes: “The bill says instruction about ‘scientific controversies’ should be objective and include ‘both the strengths and weaknesses of such scientific theory or hypothesis.’ The only controversy identified in the bill is ‘climate science.’”
There is no specific sponsor on the bill, which carries the committee’s name. The committee is controlled by Republicans.
In Oklahoma, however, go right ahead and argue that humans and dinosaurs roamed the earth at the same time. On a 9-8 vote last week, the Oklahoma Common Education committee approved the so-called Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act.
If the bill becomes law, it would make it illegal for biology teachers to fail students who write papers against evolution, climate change and other theories with near 100 percent approval in the scientific community.
“I proposed this bill because there are teachers and students who may be afraid of going against what they see in their textbooks,” said state Rep. Gus Blackwell to Mother Jones.
David Daley is the executive editor of Salon. More David Daley.
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