The 10 Craziest State Legislatures In America
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Other assaults in the legislature this year include attacking the environment, federalism, state worker pay, university funding, election day registration, medical marijuana and voter-directed tobacco prevention programs.
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. Other legislation requires women to get sonograms before abortions, creates the strongest voter identification law in the country, closes assisted-living facilities across the state, cuts funding to pre-kindergarten, adds new toll roads in the poorest areas of the state, erodes property rights, allows guns on campuses and allows elected officials to take guns anywhere. There's a lot more, but this agenda alone is enough to put Texas in the running for worst state legislature.
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."
Republicans also pursued legislation giving fertile eggs personhood, declaring all Environmental Protection Agency rules null and void, and making it a felony to enforce the Affordable Care Act. In a proposed Peace Resolution, Republicans changed every instance of the word "peace" to "victory," effectively changing the entire intent of the bill. Much of the session this year was wasted on a bill to prevent the University of North Dakota from changing the name of its sports teams from the "Fighting Sioux." Also, Al Carlson, the state chair for ALEC, happens to be the person in charge of deciding on important issues between sessions.
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. The legislature also took away local governments' right to provide workers with stronger sick leave benefits, effectively privatized the state's Commerce Department, loosened child labor laws, cut public transportation and health care, shifted federal welfare reform dollars toward paying for tax cuts and cut access to broadband. 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: In 2010, Florida Republicans, fresh off one of the most scandal-plagued years of any state party in recent memory, took supermajorities in both houses of the state legislature. With America's least popular governor, Rick Scott, in charge, that meant a flood of extreme legislation was soon to follow. Florida Republicans did not disappoint.