Republicans in statehouses across the country have a fever, and the only prescription is...
fewer wedding bells?
- Apparently. Lawmakers are pushing discriminatory variations on so-called "Religious Freedom Restoration Acts" in more states than you can shake a bouquet at.
- Under the flimsy veil of supposedly protecting "religious freedom," Republicans are passing bills that permit just about anyone to discriminate against just about anyone else.
It basically works like this: If signed into law, most of these measures would allow individuals or corporations or other organizations to discriminate against anyone they please, as long as they claim that doing otherwise "burdens" their "exercise of religion."
- At their core, these "religious freedom" measures are backlash to (or fear of) courts legalizing same-sex marriage various states.
- The bills, like the one Indiana Gov. Mike Pence just signed into law, are broadly worded and could do way more than cover bakers who don't want to provide wedding cakes for same-sex nuptials.
- Want to put a "No Gays Allowed" sign in your window? If you feel that letting teh gays spend money in your fine establishment "burdens" your religion, or something, you could probably do that.
- Given the language of these measures, you could pretty much discriminate against anyone you'd like, as long as you claim that not being terrible to certain people "burdens" your "free exercise of religion."
Pence blames the media for the national outrage, telling Hoosiers to "read the bill instead of reading the papers."
- Well, a whole mess of law professors at a whole slew of law schools read that bill super closely, and they explained why the new law is actually quite scary.
- "Members of the public will then be asked to bear the cost of their employer's, their landlord's, their local shopkeeper's, or a police officer's private religious beliefs."
Some places to keep an eye on include:
- Arkansas, where a "RFRA" right-to-discriminate bill has passed the state House and probably will soon pass the Senate.
- Even if Gov. Hutchinson were to veto the measure, the Arkansas legislature can override gubernatorial vetoes with a simple majority vote in each chamber. This bill is almost as good as law.
- Georgia, where a right-to-discriminate bill passed the state Senate but has been tabled in a House committee.
- Session ends on April 2, so it's unlikely the measure will make it to the floor in time for a full vote.
- Michigan, where a right-to-discriminate bill has been sitting in a Senate committee since January.
- Lawmakers can pretty much choose to take the measure up whenever, since the state has one of the country's ten full-time legislatures.
- Watch for it in December, which is when state Republicans have recently made something of a habit of passing lousy legislation (remember "right to work"? Rape insurance?).
- Nevada, which has until the beginning of June to pass its recently-introduced right-to-discriminate bill.
- Montana, where a Republican lawmaker wants to put her right-to-discriminate measure on the ballot in 2016.
- The bill has cleared its first committee hurdle and will be voted on by the full House soon.
It's a nice day for... more Statehouse Action!
- Hey little sister, what have you done? I've written before about Colorado state Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, a freshman who hosts a weekly show, "Pray In Jesus [sic] Name News," as his alter ego, "Dr. Chaps."
- His legislative colleagues on both sides of the aisle are aghast at Chaps/Klingenschmitt's most recent PIJN episode, in which he invokes a recent, horrific crime to claim that the death of a fetus cut out of a pregnant woman's stomach was a "curse of God" brought about by the fact that abortion is legal in the United States.
- Klingenschmitt gives exactly zero ...ah, Chaps about what his fellow lawmakers think of him, even his fellow Republicans. "I came here to speak the truth."
- Hey little sister, shotgun: Wisconsin GOP state Sen. Van Wanggaard, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, helpfully let everyone know at a public hearing that he was carrying a gun.
- The bill being heard? Wanggaard's proposal to let off-duty and retired cops carry firearms on school property.
- It's not immediately apparent what effect his proclamation had on the hearing.
- I've been away for so long: The GOP-controlled Michigan House has passed a bill that would cut off Family Independence Program public assistance to families of children who fail to meet school attendance requirements.
- Because, obviously, punishing an entire family that's already struggling will definitely help. Definitely.
- It's a nice day to start again: Last year, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie told Jim Keady to "sit down and shut up" after he publicly accused the governor of mishandling Hurricane Sandy relief funds.
- There's nothing fair in this world: One lawmaker in Missouri is so over state things. The Show Me state currently has 28 state symbols, including a state dinosaur (hypsibema missouriense), state dessert (ice cream cone), and state exercise (jumping jacks). GOP Rep. Tom Flanigan has had enough; his one-line bill would cap the number of symbols at the current 28.
- Such proposals often come from schools, where teachers sometimes use it as a way to educate students about the legislative process.
- This measure may endanger Jim the Wonder Dog's chances of becoming the official state... Wonder Dog.
- There's nothing safe in this world: One Republican lawmaker in Michigan valiantly tried to warn his constituents about the dangers his hometown newspaper's new openly gay news editor poses to their "community's values."
- State Rep. Gary Glenn took to Twitter and Facebook to proclaim his concern that the recently-promoted Tony Lascari might use his new position of authority to "promote a political agenda."
- Rep. Glenn also helpfully pointed out that the county he represents "voted overwhelmingly in favor" of the 2004 anti-same sex marriage amendment ballot measure. Homophobia -- so retro chic!
- And there's nothing pure in this world: Lawmakers in Georgia are trying to ban environmentally-friendly construction. House Bill 255 would effectively prohibit state buildings (including those at public colleges and universities) from using the construction standards known as LEED certification.
- The measure is being pushed by the state's timber industry, which complains that the standards discriminate against the use of local wood products. Wood is... good?
The following 40 state legislatures are meeting actively this week: ALASKA, ARIZONA, ARKANSAS, CALIFORNIA, COLORADO, CONNECTICUT, DELAWARE, FLORIDA, GEORGIA, HAWAII, IDAHO, ILLINOIS, INDIANA, IOWA, KANSAS, KENTUCKY, MAINE, MARYLAND, MASSACHUSETTS, MICHIGAN, MINNESOTA, MISSISSIPPI, MONTANA, NEBRASKA, NEVADA, NEW HAMPSHIRE, NEW JERSEY, NEW YORK, NORTH CAROLINA, NORTH DAKOTA, OHIO, OKLAHOMA, OREGON, RHODE ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA, TENNESSEE, TEXAS, VERMONT, WASHINGTON and WISCONSIN.
Also meeting: DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, GUAM, PUERTO RICO and UNITED STATES VIRGIN ISLANDS.
The International City County Management Association will hold its West Coast Regional Summit March 26-27 in Portland, Oregon.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners will hold its Spring Meeting March 28-31 at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown and Hyatt Regency and Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona.
The National Association of State Procurement Officials will hold its How to Market to State Governments Meeting March 29-31 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor met March 24 to discuss H.B. 391, which requires government public works construction contracts greater than $2,000 to provide overtime compensation of no less than one and a half times the basic hourly rate of pay, plus fringe benefits.
The Legislature adjourned sine die March 24.
The Joint Committee on Environment and Natural Resources met March 23 to discuss L.D. 325, L.D. 396 and L.D. 680, which impose a surcharge on single-use carryout plastic bags at point of sale.
The Senate Regulatory Reform Committee will meet March 25 to discuss S.B. 184, which creates regulations for transportation network companies to operate in the state.
The Legislature will have a second committee deadline March 27.
The Assembly Budget Committee will meet March 24 and the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee will meet March 25 to discuss and receive public testimony regarding the 2016 State Budget.
The Conventional Oil and Gas Advisory Board will meet March 26 to discuss proposed rules pertaining to surface activities related to oil and gas well development.
The Senate Judiciary Committee met March 24 to discuss H.B. 255, which dictates rules for the publishing of arrest and booking records on a website.
The Senate Commerce and Labor Committee met March 24 to discuss S.B. 721, which creates an alternative to workers' compensation coverage for employers.
The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee will meet March 25 to discuss S.B. 5972, which requires seed suppliers to ensure seed purity and identity.