5 Worst Ideas From North Carolina’s Tea Party Legislature
Tea Party legislators in North Carolina have drawn a great deal of national attention in recent months. Whether it’s their extreme proposal for voter suppression laws that would include requiring state-issued photo IDs to vote, ending same-day voter registration during early voting—which would also be drawn down—banning “incompetent” persons from voting, requiring DREAMers to carry discriminatory photo IDs that read “No Lawful Status,” attempting to shut down abortion clinics, as well as reports of state senator Tommy Tucker snapping at a newspaper publisher, “I am the senator, you are the citizen. You need to be quiet,” North Carolina Tea Party legislators have no problem drawing negative attention to themselves.
Here are five more horrible ideas that have emerged from North Carolina’s legislature, thanks to the state’s Tea Party lawmakers.
Photo: Mr T in DC via Flickr.com
Trying To Establish A State Religion
North Carolina Republican state representatives Henry Warren and Carl Ford introduced House Joint Resolution 494 in early April, which would allow the state to institute an official state religion.
The resolution reads: “The Constitution of the United States does not grant the federal government and does not grant the federal courts the power to determine what is or is not constitutional; therefore, by virtue of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the power to determine constitutionality and the proper interpretation and proper application of the Constitution is reserved to the states and to the people.” Ultimately granting themselves the power to determine what is and is not Constitutional, these Tea Party lawmakers think it’s lawful to establish a state religion.
It continues: “Each state in the union is sovereign and may independently determine how that state may make laws respecting an establishment of religion.” Um, no.
AP Photo/Steven Senne
Making It Illegal To Predict Rising Sea-Levels
Republicans in North Carolina introduced legislation last year that would prohibit any institution from making scientific predictions concerning a rise in sea levels that would affect the state’s entire eastern coast.
“The proposed bill would limit forecasts for future sea-level rise to what the ocean along the NC coast did last century,” according to an article by the North Carolina Coastal Federation. “Using that standard, the state would plan for rise of about 12 inches by 2100.” Scientists make these predictions based on data from computer generated models –Tea Party Republicans in the state take issue with this, suggesting that they ought to rely on historical data instead.
Text from the bill reads, “[Rates of sea level rise] shall only be determined using historical data, and these data shall be limited to the time period following the year 1900. Rates of sea-level rise may be extrapolated linearly to estimate future rates of rise but shall not include scenarios of accelerated rates of sea-level rise.”
The apparent reasoning for this legislation is that by distinguishing areas of land that could be underwater in the future would deter individuals from building homes and businesses in those areas. Tom Thompson, chairman of the group NC-20, which supports this legislation, told the News & Observer of Raleigh, “If you’re wrong and you start planning today at 39 inches, you could lose millions of dollars in development and 2,000 square miles would be condemned as a flood zone. Is it really a risk to wait five years and see?”
Accidentally Banning Domestic Partnerships Between Heterosexual Couples
North Carolina voters took to the polls last year and voted overwhelmingly in favor of a Constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. What voters didn’t realize was that defining the only legal partnership as marriage between one man and one woman could in turn nullify domestic partnerships between heterosexual couples. Which is exactly what happened.
The text of Amendment One reads that “marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.” Prior to this vote, same-sex marriage was already illegal in the state. The amendment just added an extra layer, making civil unions and domestic partnerships illegal as well — for everyone.
AP Photo/Ken Blevins
Requiring Notarized Parental Consent for STD Testing
A bill introduced in April that is making its way through the House chamber would require teens to present written consent to obtain certain health services, including “testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, birth control prescriptions, pregnancy care, mental health counseling, and substance abuse treatment.”
House Bill 693 is an alleged attempt made on behalf of NC House Republicans to bring families closer together. The bill’s sponsor, State Representative Chris Whitmire, said the bill will help “restore parental rights and lines of communication within families.”
The bill, if passed, would deter teens from seeking services out of fear or lack of authority figures at home. “Here’s the bottom line: Everybody wants teenagers to talk to their parents, but public policy is not based on ideal families,” Paige Johnson, vice president of external affairs for Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina, said in an interview with the Huffington Post. “What if there’s something happening in the home, some kind of abuse going on? If teenagers can’t talk to their parents for whatever reason about their pregnancy or their STD or their substance abuse, they need to be able to access professional care.”
In a state that has some of the highest rates of STDs and teen pregnancies, NC Tea Party Republicans prefer to just ignore the problem and make it exceedingly difficult for teens to get access to essential services.
Photo: Huffington Post
Requiring Welfare Recipients To Pay For Their Own State-Mandated Drug Tests
A bill mandating that any NC resident receiving welfare benefits is not only required to take a drug test but is required to pay for it passed the state’s Senate in April. Typical of Tea Party policies, the proposed legislation would target the state’s at-risk population. Upon passing the test, the state will reimburse the resident for the cost, which can be anywhere up to $100 or more. Senate Bill 594, which perhaps aims to save the state money in welfare distribution, would in turn cost the state $2.1 million in drug testing.
An amendment to the bill was introduced by Democratic state senator Gladys Robinson that would require all lawmakers to take a drug test as well. “We receive state funds, we represent the law, we institute policy. So it should not be above any of us to submit to drug screening,” she said.
This wasn’t received well by her Republican counterparts. Republican state senator Jim Davis claimed to be in favor of the amendment, but would not be voting in support of it because there was no assurance that he would be reimbursed the fee for the test.
Photo: Think Progress