The 10 Craziest State Legislatures In America
It’s only July, but some best (and worst)-of-the-year lists are already being circulated. Kenneth Quinnell, who writes for the Florida Progressive Coalition, offers ‘The 10 Craziest State Legislatures in America” via Alternet.org. Quinnell points out that while much of the story of the 2010 elections focused on Congressional control, the real changes were happening in state legislatures.
10. Michigan: Michigan became the first state to pass a Financial Martial Law bill, giving unelected emergency managers extensive powers to run local governments without oversight from local officials, effectively eliminating democracy in areas of the state that hit hard financial times.
9. North Carolina: Leading the way in this year’s legislative session in North Carolina were bills designed to kill community broadband, extend the anti-immigrant E-Verify program to all employers and require immigration status checks of public school students.
8. Ohio: It’s hard to top Ohio Republicans, who had a fetus testify against abortion on the floor of the legislature. Seriously. They also went further than Wisconsin in stripping collective bargaining rights from public workers, including police and firefighters. (After that bill stalled in committee, Republicans just changed the committee membership to make sure the bill passed.)
7. Montana: Most famously, Republican Joe Reed got a tip of the hat from Stephen Colbert for proposing legislation saying that global warming is “beneficial to the business climate of Montana” and that “carbon dioxide has no verifiable effect on the environment.”
6. Indiana: Among the greatest hits of this year’s session in Indiana were defunding Planned Parenthood, anti-immigration laws so overdone that a federal judge blocked them, “right to work” legislation designed to weaken unions, an expansion of voucher funding while cutting public school education, expanding charter schools, limiting the collective bargaining rights of teachers, merit-based pay for teachers, a ballot initiative to ban gay marriage, and banning political phonebanking within five days before an election. And don’t forget that Indiana was the birthplace of restrictive voter identification laws.
5. Texas: As blogger Matt Glazer says, “Everything’s bigger in Texas.” The sheer volume of bad bills proposed in Texas is only rivaled by Florida. You have to start with a budget that could lead to the firing of 100,000 teachers and more than twice as many private sector employees.
4. North Dakota: The legislature has completely sold out the state’s environment to oil and gas interestes, most notably in a bill saying that that fracking is “an acceptable recovery process in this state.” Another highlight (or lowlight) of the session was when State Senator Oley Larson opposed an anti-bullying law by saying that kids need bullying so they don’t become “emotional marshmallows.”
3. Wisconsin: By now, everyone is familiar with Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican legislature’s stripping state workers of their collective bargaining rights, but that’s far from the only bad law to pass this year. … All of this was done in a climate where the governor and Republicans went out of their way to deny Democrats the right to participate in the legislative process.
2. Florida: The Florida Progressive Coalition ran a recent “Session Madness” contest to determine the worst bill to come out of the legislature this year; it was hard to narrow it down to fit a bracket of 64, since there were so many bad bills. The winner of the contest was a draconian “elections” bill that passed a slew of measures that will make it harder not only to register to vote, but to actually vote.
1. Arizona: Arizona has proposed or passed a long line of bills that other states are copying. … Want anti-union legislation? Check. Want to undermine a woman’s right to choose? Got it. What about a full-scale assault on federalism and the powers of the national government? Arizona leads the way. A government official gets shot in your state and what do you do? Vote to allow concealed weapons on college campuses. Don’t like ethnic studies classes and believe crazy theories about a Mexican takeover of the U.S.? Arizona is for you.
Is your state among the worst offenders? Does this list miss any obvious contenders? And, critically, can these (or other) states top these low achievements before year’s end? Tell us what you think!