[cross-posted at DLCC.org]
The GOP’s war on workers has dominated recent national media coverage, with two states in particular getting most of the attention. Unfortunately, this means that some other truly loony Republican actions didn't receive the attention they deserved.
So we’re taking a moment today to revisit some of the things - happening in states all across the country - that you may have missed in the last few weeks.
The New Hampshire House is quickly gaining a reputation as the nation’s Petri dish for right-wing buffoonery. We’ve already discussed recent GOP efforts there to abolish universal kindergarten, declare technology training irrelevant to an adequate education, and block U.S. efforts to combat piracy. But did you know that GOP state Representatives have also proposed ordering TSA agents to register as sex offenders (he calls it the “Don’t Touch My Junk” bill) and shipping the mentally ill to Siberia?
The latter idea, proposed by GOP state Rep. Martin Harty, prompted Harty to resign a few days later (not out of shame, according to him, but because "So far I really don't know what I'm doing" - a mystery most of New Hampshire still grapples with). Amazingly, GOP Speaker Bill O’Brien declined to clearly condemn Harty. Instead he simply said that Harty "has earned the right to say what he thinks."
Meanwhile, at the other extreme, New Hampshire state Rep. Kenneth Weyler implied during a committee hearing that mental illness was no more than an elaborate racket, and that “by cutting the amount of help we're willing to offer, we'd like them to discover that some of these people can be cured.”
Moving on to the Iowa House, GOP state Rep. Chris Hagenow has filed legislation that would allow private security officers (like the ones in shopping malls) to carry “offensive weapons.” Existing Iowa law, in turn, defines “offensive weapons” to include “a bomb, grenade, or mine, any rocket having a propellant charge of more than four ounces, certain rockets, missiles, and other similar devices.” Perhaps Rep. Hagenow thinks mine fields would deter shoplifters.
Or maybe Hagenow was simply panicked by his GOP colleague across the hall in the Iowa Senate, state Sen. Mark Chelgren, who argued that universal preschool was nothing more than a cover for Nazi indoctrination sessions (audio here).
Continuing the theme of compassion for children, Maine Republicans are picking up an idea first proposed by Missouri GOP state Sen. Jane Cunningham, who tried to repeal most child labor laws in that state. Similar legislation has now been filed in both the Maine House and Maine Senate.
In the Kansas House, GOP state Rep. Connie O’Brien first said she could determine if people were illegal immigrants or not based on whether they “had the olive complexion.” A few weeks later, GOP Rep. Virgil Peck suggested that shooting illegal immigrants from helicopters would be an effective policy.
Georgia state Rep. Bobby Franklin, who last made headlines for trying to label rape victims as "accusers" in all Georgia court proceedings, is back in the news after he compared the United States to the oppressive regimes in Egypt and Libya, declaring that “Americans are the most delusional people in the world.”
And speaking of GOP efforts to blame the victim in rape cases, debate over a school dress code bill in the Florida House was marred by GOP state Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, who spoke in favor of the bill because “There was an article about an 11 year old girl who was gangraped in Texas by 18 young men because she was dressed up like a 21-year-old prostitute.”
A bill in the Montana House would have eliminated all educational requirements for the State Superintendent of Instruction – an elected position. Forty-six House Republicans apparently thought that was a great idea, because why would we want the person responsible for education to be, you know, educated?
And finally, Arizona Senate Majority Leader Scott Bundgaard recently invoked his state constitution’s legislative immunity clause to avoid a domestic violence charge after he was accused of hitting his girlfriend on the side of the road. Amazingly, now that Bundgaard has used the loophole himself to avoid the charges, he wants to repeal it so no one else can follow his example.