July 22, 2011; Source: AlterNet | AlterNet’s list of the 10 craziest state legislatures is wonderfully entertaining. Some of the craziness directly affects nonprofits. Here’s a sampling:
10. Michigan: The Michigan legislature apparently has been trying to “punish universities that give benefits to same-sex domestic partners”
9. North Carolina: In the current legislative session, the North Carolina legislature is considering requiring immigration status checks on public school students.
8. Ohio: We must have missed this, but AlterNet cites a Daily Kos item that some members of the Ohio legislature earlier this year scheduled a fetus to testify on legislation that would restrict abortions.
7. Montana: Is this correct? Did the Montana legislature refused to overturn legislation that classifies homosexuality as a crime in the state?
6. Indiana: The Indiana legislature’s anti-immigration laws were so over the top, apparently, that a federal judge blocked their implementation.
5. Texas: AlterNet says that “The sheer volume of bad bills proposed in Texas is only rivaled by Florida.”
4. North Dakota: AlterNet reports that “State Senator Oley Larson opposed an anti-bullying law by saying that kids need bullying so they don’t become ’emotional marshmallows.'”
3. Wisconsin: From an AlterNet perspective, Wisconsin, like Ohio, makes the list due to legislation restricting the collective bargaining rights of state workers.
2. Florida: The AlterNet author is from the Florida Progressive Coalition, so it’s no surprise that he has lots to say about the Sunshine State, mentioning dozens of conservative bills along with the state’s unpopular governor, Rick Scott.
1. Arizona: Arizona is at the top of the list for its immigration law, but there is more. Our favorite is the state’s lower house passing a bill requiring federal candidates to demonstrate proof of their U.S. birth before being listed on the Arizona electoral ballot.
To be fair, some of the craziness cited by AlterNet is simply right wing legislation (such as the defunding of Planned Parenthood or restrictions on public employee collective bargaining rights) that groups like the Florida Progressive Coalition oppose as a matter of course. In other cases, AlterNet is citing proposed legislation or nutty statements by individual legislators (such as Arizona State Senator Sylvia Allen who affirmed that the earth is only 6,000 years old). Anyone can say or propose anything in state legislatures. But AlterNet cautions that it is wise to watch the “loony” legislative proposals else some of them find their way into law. —Rick Cohen