The 10 Craziest State Legislatures In America
While attention was naturally focused on the changes in Congress that came as a result of the 2010 elections, an overlooked, but vitally important, consequence of those elections was the strong rightward shift in legislatures across the state. As of the beginning of legislative sessions this year, 26 states were controlled by Republicans, with only 15 in the hands of Democrats.Not surprisingly, this has meant an epidemic of right-wing legislation being proposed and passed across the country. The worst things that have passed, in both quantity and quality, are coming from Republican-controlled legislatures. Based on what they've done so far this year, here are the 10 worst in the United States.
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.
The law granted sweeping new authority to appointed managers, including powers to cancel or renegotiate union contracts, sell off assets and privatize public services. In Detroit, the school district’s emergency manager, Robert Bobb, announced shortly after the passage of the bill that 8 schools would be closing and 45 others bid out to private charter operators; in April, he issued layoff notices to every teacher and staff member in the district. In Benton Harbor, manager Joseph Harris issued an executive order effectively stripping all city boards and commissions from taking any action whatsoever.
Word is if you are an orphan, Michigan isn't the place to be, since the state is cutting money to help orphaned children get clothes. The Michigan legislature also doesn't seem to like LGBT people much, as it tried to punish universities that give benefits to same-sex domestic partners.
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.
In this year's budget, North Carolina saw its largest decline in spending in 30 years. The budget, enacted over a gubernatorial veto, will lead to the firing of teachers, the elimination of drug courts and a weakening of environmental regulations. The governor also vetoed a restrictive voter identification bill. Other key provisions passed by the legislature include relaxing regulation on interest rates, destroying the public campaign financing system, requiring women seeking abortions to first listen to right-wing propaganda and cutting funding for Planned Parenthood.
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.) They also tried to pass legislation to allow guns in bars and stadiums and to allow drug convicts to have the right to bear arms. The legislature also poured money into for-profit charter schools, regardless of whether or not they successfully educated students, including one with a less than 2 percent success rate. All of this is without any oversight.
7. Montana: Luckily for Montanans, Gov. Brian Schweitzer is around to stop the worst of what the legislature wants to do. This is one of the states where there is a strong, concentrated attack on the reproductive rights of women, a state where Republican House Member Keith Regier compared women to cattle in arguing for an anti-abortion bill. Women aren't the only target, as the legislature went after local LGBT anti-discrimination ordinances and made sure that homosexuality is still classified as a crime in the state, despite federal courts saying the statute is unconstitutional.