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The 10 Craziest State Legislatures In America

The worst things that have passed in the states, in both quantity and quality, are coming from Republican-controlled legislatures.

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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. Other bills that passed gutted growth management, deregulated telecoms, cut corporate income taxes, reduced environmental regulations, eliminated teacher tenure, limited Medicaid, required women who are interested in an abortion to pay to see an ultrasound first, brought back legislative leadership slush funds, cut state worker pensions, required drug testing for welfare recipients and state workers, prevented doctors from even asking patients about firearms in the home, cut unemployment and put a Colorado-style Taxpayer Bill of Rights amendment on the 2012 ballot for voters to approve. And the legislature may have accidentally outlawed sex.

And that's just what passed. Many other extreme bills were proposed and didn't make it to the governor's desk, including an anti-Sharia law, a court packing scheme, nearly unlimited campaign contributions, an assault on labor unions and many others. It's also apparently against the rules to say uterus on the floor of the Florida House because, you know, kids shouldn't hear such dirty words.

1. Arizona: It should come as no shocker that Arizona tops this list. The number of times the legislature alone makes it on the national radar, not even touching on Gov. Jan Brewer, makes it a leader in state-level extremism. And it seems that Arizona also sets the agenda for extremists in other states. Numerous states attempted to copy Arizona's SB1070 immigration racial profiling bill, but most of them didn't pass it. Arizona not only passed it first, the state is trying to up the ante by attempting to launch state "compacts" with its neighbors to override federal immigration law. And it doesn't end with immigration: 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.

Want a legislator ranting on the floor about bisexual high school principals? Done. Want another legislator saying the earth is only 6,000 years old? Arizona wins again. Want a birther bill passed through the legislature? All you had to do was ask.

Oh yeah, and the Arizona legislature (and governor) cut back on a transplant program that actually led to two people dying. When your state starts killing people who aren't on death row, then you can challenge Arizona, which has the worst legislature in the United States.

These 10 states don't even remotely have a lock on the extreme legislative proposals this year. In particular, Virginia, Alabama, New York, Georgia, Maine, Kansas, and Missouri also got serious consideration for the top 10. And with groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) pushing its agenda in every state, progressives should keep an eye on all of the state legislatures to see where the national conservative attacks of tomorrow are being perfected today.

 
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