And now, the latest rundown of some of the more unusual bills that state lawmakers currently have on their dockets.
Idaho: Making Ayn Rand required reading
Republican State Sen. John Goedde has introduced a bill that would require students to read “and comprehend” super-libertarian Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged before they could graduate from public high schools. Comprehension would be gauged by a state-approved test. Goedde told the Idaho Spokesman-Review that his bill is more symbolic than serious, however, designed to show the State Board of Education that lawmakers have power over what happens in schools. “It was a shot over their bow,” he said, “just to let them know that there’s another way to adopt high school graduation requirements.”
Indiana: Cursive or keyboards?
In July 2011, a directive from the Indiana Department of Education made teaching cursive optional for public schools. Students were only required to learn printing and typing. But that edict has thrown some traditionalists for a loop, and Republican Sen. Jean Leising has proposed a bill that would make cursive mandatory in elementary schools, public and private. The measure passed in the Senate on Tuesday, 36-13.
Ohio: It’s a bird, it’s a plane
A bill flown by Democratic state Representative Bill Patmon would authorize the creation of a Superman-themed license plate. He is especially anxious to see the bill pass this session, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports, because 2013 is the 75th anniversary of the Man of Steel’s first appearance. The plate would display Superman’s signature shield and the slogan “Truth, Justice & the American Way,” celebrating the two Ohioans who created the character in the Buckeye State during the 1930s.
Utah: Where vomiting is a crime, potentially
A Utah committee approved a measure this week that would make it a felony to vomit on a law enforcement officer. Technically, a prisoner or detained individual would have to “propel” the vomit at the officer’s face. It is already a felony to propel fecal matter, urine or blood at an officer’s face. A separate measure, the Salt Lake City Tribune reports, would make it a misdemeanor to propel such substances at a person who is not a law enforcement officer.
Kansas: Keeping passwords private
Two Democratic legislators want to bar employers from demanding usernames and passwords from applicants, with the intention of sifting through their social media accounts for red flags. Some legal experts and fellow lawmakers have said that the bill “is overkill,” fixing a problem that is far from prevalent. The Kansas City Star reports that the proposal comes after journalists uncovered examples of such snooping in five states.
Montana: Making lashing an option
A Montana lawmaker has drafted a bill that would allow criminals to opt for corporal punishment instead of jail time. Speaking with the Huffington Post, Republican State Rep. Jerry O’Neil provided an example to make his point. “For me, I’d rather by whipped 20 lashes than spend 10 years in prison,” he said. “Would you rather spend 10 years in prison or be whipped 20 lashes?” The bill does not specifically mention lashes, but would leave it to the court and convict to “the exact nature of the corporal punishment.”