Another Legislative Year, Another Round of Awful Bills

Concealed weaponTexas has passed legislation authorizing teachers to use “force or deadly force on school property.” (Image: Concealed weapon via Shutterstock)

With the legislative sessions now underway in many states, we are seeing exactly how far to the ideological right some states have shifted after another Republican wave of victories during the midterms. The last GOP dominated election brought us a legislative session filled with massive abortion restrictions, voter ID and voting restrictions, union busting and lots and lots of proposed private school vouchers. This time, things could get even worse.

In Texas, on abortion it’s pro-life, pro-child all the time. When it comes to gun control, though, it’s pro-bullets.

“House Bill 868 would authorize teachers to use ‘force or deadly force on school property, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored event in defense of the educator’s person or in defense of students of the school that employs the educator,’” reports CBS. What that also means is they can use those guns against a “dangerous” student, according to the news, which claims it “would allow teachers to use deadly force against students and protect them from any kind of prosecution.” In essence, it is castle doctrine for the classroom, and the students are the potential threats.

Texas is making it easier to shoot school kids and not be punished. Kansas, meanwhile, wants to punish a teacher for talking about sex in any way by classing it as exposing minors to harmful materials.

“Officials with the Kansas-National Education Association said in a blog post Wednesday that the proposed bill would ‘purge literature from our schools, censor art classes, and stop field trips’ because teachers likely would self-censor to protect themselves from potential prosecution,” reports Kansas.com. “A teacher who takes a field trip to the state capitol and suddenly notes the bare-breasted woman in the artwork in the rotunda can be accused of recklessly exposing students to nudity,’ the group said.”

So teachers can’t be trusted to age-appropriately speak with children about sex, bodies and human interaction, but can be trusted to decide when to shoot them in the classroom? It’s no surprise that the same party that backs these contradictory statements is also saying that the government itself is so untrustworthy that even the dollar needs to get a second glance. Arizona is hoping to join Utah and Oklahoma in allowing precious metals to be used as legal tender in lieu of bills and coins.

“Proponents say the bill reflects a growing distrust of government-backed money. Opponents countered that it sends the wrong message that gold and silver are safer than currency,” reports the Associate Press. “Republican Rep. Mark Finchem said he sponsored the bill to further protect the state’s buying power and consumers’ rights to use precious metals as an alternative to paper money.” The state is also proposing making those metals protected from capital gains taxes as their value increases, because obviously people hoarding enough gold and platinum that they would consider using it to purchase items need more tax breaks.

The theme of all of these bills is a pretty simple one – government mistrust. Texas doesn’t really want to arm teachers against their students, they just want to make sure the guns can be absolutely everywhere because the government can’t tell you they can’t be. Kansas doesn’t really want to make sure no student sees the penis on Michelangelo’s David (or most Kansans, at least), they just want to be positive the government isn’t sneaking in some sort of sex education to which parents may morally object. Even the gold for dollars is about an inherent mistrust of a federal monetary system the extreme far right believes could collapse.

Then there is Utah. There, lawmakers are considering a bill that allows them to pledge their oath to the state constitution, not to the U.S. one.

“Republican Rep. Brian Greene said the amendment ‘reflects our duty as state legislators to first and foremost uphold the Constitution and make sure the federal Constitution does not run roughshod over the state Constitution,'” reports Talking Points Memo. “‘This is a delicate balance and I certainly recognize that, but it’s also a special charge we have as state legislators,’ he said.”

In reality, 2015 has a lot of the same feel as 2011 and 2013: anti-federal government, anti-school, anti-reproductive health. The difference this go around? GOP-led legislatures have already passed such extreme bills in the last few cycles, all they have left to propose now is legislation that borders on the ludicrous.