Since the 2010 election, a number of states under complete Republican control have passed laws meant to diminish the power of unions, greatly restrict abortion access and defund elements of the public education system and their states’ social safety net programs.
Those efforts became even more pronounced after election day in 2012, when legislators no longer had a looming campaign to worry about. From the 2012 lame duck session in December through the 2013 calendar year, a number of states have offered truly extreme bills dismantling voting rights, defunding public schools and banning abortion before many women might even know they are pregnant.
And those are just a few of the better-known examples. Here are seven more of the worst bills proposed since November 2012 that you’ve probably never heard of:
North Carolina became known as the most extreme state of the union this year, with the legislature refusing to expand Medicaid, curtailing unemployment benefits, putting hurdles on the right to vote and even potentially closing almost every abortion clinic in the state. One thing they didn’t quite manage to pull off? Establishing Christianity as the official state religion. However, that wasn’t for lack of trying. House Resolution 494 would have allowed the state to establish an official religion. The bill went down when everyone realized it would be in direct violation of the Constitution. No worries, though – North Carolina passed an absurd “no Sharia law” bill instead.
Republican State Rep. Cathrynn Brown swears that she never meant to throw a pregnant person in jail if she sought out an abortion after being impregnated as a result of sexual assault. But if HB 206 – a bill that would classify abortion after rape as “evidence tampering” – were signed into law, that’s exactly what would have happened. Even if the victim wasn’t punished with a prison sentence, she would still be forced to give birth to her rapist’s child without her consent, a proposal that caused so much public outcry Brown eventually withdrew the bill.
Last year, Michigan lawmakers passed SB 59, an expanded conceal-and-carry law that would allow permit holders to have a gun in bars, churches and even daycare centers. The bill passed both Michigan’s House and Senate, but Republican Gov. Snyder vetoed the final bill just a few days after the Sandy Hook shooting. The bill was reintroduced in the State Senate in 2013, but stalled in committee.
What do you do with a young, scared, pregnant teen who doesn’t want to name the father of her baby? According to the Mississippi GOP, you make her take a DNA test to determine paternity. Proponents of HB 151 argued the info could be used to prosecute statutory rape or obtain child support, as well as drive down teen pregnancy rates. Opponents worry that teens could be driven into hiding and away from hospitals when it’s time to give birth or miss out on prenatal care. Opponents lost; HB 151 was signed into law by Republican Governor Phil Bryant.
Waiting periods prior to obtain abortions are increasingly common, and South Dakota is one of two states to have a three-day long wait. But anti-abortion lawmakers went one step further with HB 1237, the “no weekends” bill. A previous law that was blocked by the courts would have required all women to visit a crisis pregnancy center for counseling before she could end a pregnancy. Even though that law wasn’t in effect, HB 1237 was proposed so if it ever did become the rule, the religiously-based centers weren’t inconvenienced by being forced to stay open on weekends just to accommodate those women. The bill passed both branches of the legislature and was signed into law by Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard.
Alabama spent much of the 2013 session trying to kill off financial support to public schools under the guise of educational “freedom of choice.” After already ruling that students should be allowed to take their voucher money and run to private schools instead, one group of lawmakers also wanted to see SB 186 become law. Dubbed the “Tim Tebow” Act, SB 186 would allow homeschooled students to take advantage of public school extra curricular programs – most notably their sports teams – without the students being forced to attend actual classes in the schools. Despite hours of back and forth, the bill finally died – much like Tebow’s chances of playing in the NFL this year
Tennessee Republican Stacey Campfield introduced a proposal to require students whose families were receiving TANF (Temporary Aid to Needy Families) benefits to not only stay in school, but receive good grades, too. (He thought this would help inspire low-income parents to be more involved in their children’s education.) Other states have tied benefits to truancy, but SB 0132 also required “score[s] of proficient or advanced on required state examinations in the subject areas of mathematics and reading or language arts, demonstrating competency as determined by the state board of education on two end of course examinations, or maintaining a grade point average that is sufficient to ascend to the next grade . . .” Apparently, nothing helps a child struggling in school like cutting off the money that helps pay for his or her food. The proposal disappeared into committee and never passed the state house.