This Week in Statehouse Action: What Pandemic? edition



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.

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.

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.
  • Only 15 of the 98 members of the Washington House haven’t provided proof of vaccination.
  • 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.

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.
  • 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.

“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.

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).

(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.

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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