This Week in Statehouse Action: What Pandemic? edition

Different week, same old GOP statehouse garbage.

Seriously, the sense of deja vu with these cats is real.

Especially because they seem oblivious to the fact that WE”;RE STILL IN THE MIDDLE OF A FREAKING PANDEMIC

But Republican lawmakers are objecting to the most basic of public safety measures, like masks, with a vehemence one might more suitably reserve for, say, drinking spoiled milk.

…; although if enough conservative anti-vaxxers get behind drinking spoiled milk as a COVID-19 cure, they might get into it. (I mean, if folks can be convinced that drinking their own urine cures coronavirus, this doesn”;t seem like a heavy lift.)

Anyway, everything is stupid, but GOP state legislators seem dedicated to elevating “;stupid”; to deadly levels.

Because in state after state, Republicans, at best, are mostly sticking their fingers in their ears and yelling, “;LALALALALALALALA I CAN”;T HEAR YOU,”; and at worst, they”;re actively making it harder for kids, teachers, businesses, and, well, anyone to protect themselves.

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Take South Dakota, where COVID-19 infections are currently hitting new record highs daily.

Meanwhile, the GOP-controlled state legislature refuses to implement any coronavirus mitigation measures for session, even after a Democratic lawmaker tested positive for COVID-19 just a few days in.

With nine weeks yet to go, he definitely won”;t be the last.

In Virginia, where the General Assembly session kicked off on Wednesday, whether or not a lawmaker is wearing a mask has become quick and easy way to ascertain whether they”;re a Democrat or a Republican.

I mean, if Republicans want to get sick and risk missing votes in the closely divided House of Delegates, I guess that”;s their business …;

…; except that they”;ll be spending a LOT of time in close quarters with their Democratic counterparts over the next 58 days, which, even masked, raises their risk, too.

And how quickly Republicans seem to have forgotten the death of one of their colleagues, GOP Sen. Ben Chafin, from coronavirus just a year ago.

In Washington, where Democrats control both chambers of the legislature and have implemented strict vaccine requirements for lawmakers, Republican Rep. Jim Walsh would like you to know that he is being OPPRESSED.

Last year, he was locked out of his office in the state capitol for failing to comply with the legislature”;s requirement that he show proof of vaccination.
Now Walsh is trying to pass a new law that will ban such requirements, which, fine, he”;s a state legislator, and state legislators get to introduce bills, even stupid ones.

But it”;s the bit from HB1695 that actually compares providing proof of vaccination to enter the capitol to racial segregation that has a lot of folks understandably upset.

Only 15 of the 98 members of the Washington House haven”;t provided proof of vaccination.

I know you”;re just shocked to learn that all 15 are Republicans.

Washington state lawmakers unable to access the floor for violating vaccine or testing requirements are still able to fully participate in legislating–;committee hearings, votes, etc.–remotely, but that”;s not the point for the GOP.

Not being a selfish shit about the health of folks you”;re in close quarters with on a regular basis–;as state lawmakers are during legislative sessions–;has somehow become partisan.

And while Republicans have a well-laminated image of supposedly letting businesses operate free from governmental interference, that veneer is peeling.

A week into Missouri”;s legislative session–;which is fully in-person and devoid of COVID-19 screening, vaccination, or mask requirements–;lawmakers have already filed over 30 bills prohibiting, discouraging, or establishing exemptions from coronavirus vaccination requirements.
Republican lawmakers in GOP-controlled Indiana, Ohio, Kansas, and Wisconsin have also filed bills that would severely limit or prohibit COVID-19 vaccine requirements at private businesses and in workplaces–;to hell with what those private businesses actually want.

In Arizona, where session just started with all COVID-19 safety measures from last year–;masks, plastic dividers, distancing accommodations, virtual participation–;completely gone, the GOP House speaker is ignoring the pleas of a pregnant Democratic representative to be allowed to participate in session remotely, which he”;s suddenly deemed “;not secure”; for no clear reason.

Speaker Rusty Bowers, citing some nonsense about an “;air of normalcy”; even as cases spike in the state, said that some legislators will be allowed to vote remotely, but only if they ask him nicely–;ahem, I mean, specifically are granted permission to by him–;and only from their offices in the state capitol.

Even then, lawmakers seeking to protect themselves from COVID-19 infections in such a way will not be permitted to actually engage in debate or discussion of any legislation.

Is the GOP turning into a death cult?

Or has Big “;Rona set up some huge dark money PAC without anyone noticing?

Have some Republican lawmakers been replaced with colonies of coronaviruses in human suits?

just asking

But because COVID-19 isn”;t the only plague threatening civilization, let”;s take a moment to check in on the state of state GOPers”; fight to teach our kids to be stupid bigots.

As an erudite consumer of this missive, you learned last week about SB167 and Indiana Republican Sen. Scott Baldwin”;s defense of teaching Naziism and fascism in a “;neutral”; way and not taking “;a position”; on these objectively vile ideologies before national-level media got around to noticing.

All that hubbub has resulted in SB167 getting put on ice, but a strikingly similar House bill is moving right along.

This week, Indiana HB1134 sailed through committee in the GOP-controlled legislature.

The House measure differs slightly from SB167, but its language regarding teaching “;divisive concepts”; is …; awfully similar.

NB: “;divisive concepts”; here is not my term, but rather the language used in this article, which frankly represents a massive media fail by the Indy Star, because SINCE WHEN IS “;SLAVERY = BAD”; A DIVISIVE CONCEPT

But HB1134″;s sponsor, GOP Rep. Tony Cook, hasn”;t said anything incredibly stupid about it on camera yet, so it survives and will very likely become law.

Thing is, it”;s what Cook refuses to say that makes this bill diabolical.

On Wednesday, Democratic Rep. Vernon Smith pointedly asked Cook if teachers can “;discuss that racism is bad.”;

Cook refused to actually answer Smith, instead saying that schools can use facts to teach about segregationist Jim Crow laws, Japanese internment camps, and events like the “;Bloody Sunday”; civil rights march.
When Smith correctly called Cook out for failing to actually answer his extremely straightforward question, Cook again absolutely refused to say that teachers would be allowed to each that racism is bad:

“;I gave you examples which certainly talk about racism and how it was approached in a very bad way in our country at one time.”;

Consider those words.

If “;racism …; was approached in a very bad way in our country at one time,”; he”;s saying that there”;s a good way to approach it now.

Also, talking “;about racism”; is absolutely not the same as saying that racism is bad.

So Cook”;s bill, should it become law (let”;s fucking face it, when it becomes law), will prohibit teachers from teaching that racism is bad.

A similarly-flavored government-control-of-classrooms bill has been introduced in Virginia, but you”;d better take a look at it now before it gets withdrawn out of abject embarrassment.

Bill sponsor, Trump and Big Lie defender, and freshman GOP Del. Wren Williams apparently thinks that the Lincoln-Douglas debates were between Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, because he specifically cites “;the first debate between Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass”; as something the state should mandate be taught in commonwealth classrooms.

let me know when you track that transcript down, son

Williams was born and raised in Virginia, so it”;s apparent that his rural state school failed him in some way …; but apparently Samford University is handing MBAs and JDs out to any old idiot who can pay its private school tuition (north of$120,000 for the JD alone, what a great investment).

Meanwhile, a Florida Republican wants to put cameras in classrooms and mics on teachers, because no one actually fucking read 1984, did they?

(Full disclosure: I am a product of public education and the child of two lifelong public school teachers/counselors/administrators, so yeah, this stuff makes me extra rage-y. And legit scared.)

But because (…; most) state lawmakers can walk and chew shitty gum at the same time, Republicans are kicking off their legislative sessions doing more than just trying to control private businesses and deny the basic notion that racism is bad.

In Missouri, GOP legislators have introduced 16 measures restricting or prohibiting women”;s access to abortion care.
In Arizona, Republican Sen. Wendy Rogers has introduced legislation that would just outright ban mail-in ballots in local elections–;cities, towns, school districts.

Rogers has also introduced multiple bills targeting transgender kids and wants to name a highway after Donald Trump.

Welp, I think that”;s quite enough darkness for one week.

Legislative sessions have just started, and there”;s a whole lot of winter left, too.

But sunlight hours are, if imperceptibly, getting just a little big longer each day.

So that”;s something to feel good about.

And you.

I feel great about you, and you should, too.

So take care of yourself.

You”;re important.

We need you.

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Written by mettablog

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