Bills, Bills, Bills: Highlights from the State Capitols

A selection of some of the more unusual and divisive bills on state dockets. This week: decreeing college football games by law, gun safety for first graders and regulating drones.

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Patrick Lewis #61 of the Texas A&M Aggies prepares to snap the ball against the Texas Longhorns in the second half of a game at Kyle Field on November 24, 2011 in College Station, Texas.

Washington, D.C. isn’t the only city teeming with politicians and proposals. Here are some of the more unusual and divisive bills that state legislators currently have on their dockets.

Tennessee: “The Classroom Protection Act”

State Sen. Stacey Campfield (R) has revived a so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill that he introduced last session. The measure would prohibit the discussion of homosexuality in grades pre-kindergarten through eighth and require school officials to report “immediate and urgent safety issues involving human sexuality,” which has been interpreted as reporting homosexual behavior. “The general assembly recognizes that certain subjects are particularly sensitive,” the bill reads, “and are, therefore, best explained and discussed within the home.”

Arizona: “Relating to sexual offenses”

A House Democrat introduced a bill that would make it a felony to intentionally expose someone to STDs, whether through sex, blood donation or sharing needles. The measure lists specific conditions that would qualify, ranging from chlamydia to HIV. Rep. Lela Alston told a local paper that she was inspired by a constituent who contracted an STD from a man who didn’t tell her he was infected.

Texas: “Relating to an annual football game”

For nearly a century, Texans watched a yearly matchup between the University of Texas and Texas A&M. A long-standing rivalry came to an end when the Aggies switched conferences in 2012, but after missing the game for one year, a House Democrat has introduced a bill to bring it back: by law, the schools would have to play one non-conference game per season. If either failed to participate, that university would lose state-funded football scholarships.

Missouri: “Active Shooter and Intruder Response Training”

A Missouri bill would require that first graders go through gun safety training, but the proposal is not as extreme as it sounds. The instruction would not be allowed to include firearms and would “emphasize how students should respond if they encounter a firearm.” In committee, Republican Sen. Dan Brown showed a sample video, featuring a cartoon eagle who tells children to “step away from an unsecured gun and immediately report it to an adult,” according to local news reports.

Florida: “Foreign-trained medical professionals”

Two Florida Republicans have proposed companion bills that aim to prevent U.S. citizens who go to Cuba for medical training from practicing in America. “Using American students and training them in the medical field will not forgive the basic rights denied to the Cuban people,” Sen. Rene Garcia said in a statement, according toSunshine State News. “U.S students who turn a blind eye to basic human and civil rights abuses in Cuba do not possess the moral clarity to serve patients in Florida.”

Oregon: “Imposes restrictions on use of drones”

A bill governing the use of drones by private citizens also attempts to designate official “Airspace of Oregon,” defined as “the space above the ground that is not part of the airspace governed by federal law.” Within the state’s official airspace, writes Democratic Sen. Floyd Prozanski, Oregonians would be prohibited from owning or operating drones unless given permission by the federal government or the state department of aviation. But the director of that state department has cast doubt on the idea that Oregon can lay claim to Beaver State sky—traditionally the jurisdiction of the Federal Aviation Administration.

(MORE: Game of Drones: What Happens When They’re Unleashed at Home?)



		
	
9 comments
DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

Missouri: “Active Shooter and Intruder Response Training”

I actually don't have a problem with that, though it's certainly something that should be taught to children nation-wide.  It's appalling how many very young children kill themselves every year with an unsecured gun they find in their parent's house.  I also think that people who purchase guns should be required by law to attend basic gun safety (and safe storage) courses, but that's another can of worms.

grape_crush
grape_crush

This is a good feature, Katy. Any chance of making it a semi-regular feature?

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

I like the Missouri proposal.  Regardless of your opinion about gun rights, there is no question that a lot of deaths from gun accidents (which far outnumber gun homicides) would be prevented by better gun safety - and there are a lot of cases where little kids who don't know gun safety (such as "always assume it's loaded" and "never, ever, ever point it at anyone") end up shooting people

MrObvious
MrObvious

 Tennessee: “The Classroom Protection Act”

'Cause using the word gay leads to more gayness.

notsacredh
notsacredh

Thanks for the laugh Katy. Here's some of my laws for the respective states:

Florida: If your representaive votes against hurricane relief for another state, they have to vote no for it for Florida.

Tennessee: If your representative is so afraid of homosexual behavior that he feels it needs to be reported, they must make a guest appearance on Glee.

Oregon: All helicopters must be painted black and display the UN logo.

Missouri: All 1st graders must be told that guns kill people.

Texas: You must STFU.

tom.litton
tom.litton

@forgottenlord I believe (if i recall correctly) the stats are:

Accidents: < 1000

Homicides: ~10k

Suicides: ~20k

MrObvious
MrObvious

@forgottenlord 

Knowledge is key, I find nothing objectionably in teaching kids 'stuff'. That's how Switzerland can have the rate of safe gun ownership and low gun related death as they do. A completely different gun culture from ours.

grape_crush
grape_crush

As long as they approve additional funding for the mandate - separate from general school funding - it doesn't sound like a bad idea.

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

@tom.litton

I found that stat so completely unbelievable that I had to double check it.  Sure enough, 20k suicides a year.  I also checked the suicide rates overall and found that the US isn't that far off the norm.  As such, I'm going to stop using the 30k gun deaths a year stat as that does not reasonably represent the gun culture problems - no matter what you do about gun safety, the vast majority of those lives lost to suicide would have been lost with or without a firearm.