Thursday, March 15, 2012

Liberty is Too Blind to Defend Herself : A Report on the Utah State House of Representatives

I realized, just after posting, that I have thoughtlessly conflated Lady Liberty with Justice, who is in fact the blind one. So...umm...just go with it.

Many of you are probably aware of the bill recently passed by the Utah State House of Representatives, HB-363, which prohibits schools from teaching about contraception, homosexuality, and other things deemed immoral and icky. Yes, it seems that soon (by law) abstinence will be the only way to go, although a generous provision in the bil allows schools to opt out of sexual education altogether if they choose, leaving parents free to teach their kids the nuances of human sexuality as I'm sure they're already doing anyway. The bill has sparked some outrage amongst deviants, liberals, and socialists, but the controversy hides the state government's many other legislative achievements, which have been sadly overlooked. In the interest of righting the wrong, I present the abridged highlights of other recent Utah State House of Representatives action:

Pictured: the UN. Like the Utah Stage Legislature, but less relevant and (literally) more colorful.


HB-389, introduced by LaVerl Richards, R-Tooele

This bill mandates that "no Utahn shall be compelled to surrender firearms to the federal government under any circumstance whatsoever." Rep. Richards proclaimed that the measure would "reverse the never-ending tide of this President's anti-Second Amendment activism." Minority whip Maxine Dixon, D-Salt Lake City, countered that while the federal actions under consideration were not, technically, real, she would nevertheless support the bill if House Republicans would reconsider planned legislation to cut the pay of all state employees of "a brownish hue." Republicans assured her they would and HB-389 passed 56-19 over muffled snickering.

HB-277, introduced by Jim Kimball, R-Provo

The bill would enact statewide laws on appropriate skirt length in public as "not to exceed 3 inches above the knee." Despite some criticism from women's groups, Rep. Kimball argued that the bill is gender-neutral, without specific provisions targeting men or women. "Look," he told reporters, "this is not about legislating morality, this is a simple matter of right and wrong." Despite strong early support, the bill was tabled after some debate on whether clause II.a.2, "Provisions for Sitting Positions with Crossed and Uncrossed Legs," is consistent with the law's intent.
Enjoy it while you can, trollops
HB-481, introduced by LaVerl Benson, R-Kanab

HB-281 calls for a task force to commence a preliminary study on reducing what Benson termed the "wasteful state bureaucracy" by at least 65% by the next legislative session. Debate stalled after Speaker Samuel McKay, R-Roy, pointed out that the proposed task force may overlap with the existing Government Waste Reduction Group created in 2010. The findings of GWR-10 are expected soon, though some reports indicate that the group has been bogged down by infighting with the Government Expenditures Elimination Caucus of 2009.

HB-390, introduced by Lynn Gibson, R-Fruit Heights.

The bill requires that "all female minors under the age of 18 obtain written consent from their "legal head of household or -- only if he is unavailable -- mother" before engaging in sexual activity of any kind. Rep. LaVerl Herrod, R-Herriman, led the debate, arguing that fathers deal disproportionately with the emotional fallout of teenage sexuality and must be protected. Michael Powell, D-Salt Lake City, cleared his throat several times during debate and once raised his hand before transitioning into an arm stretch. He was ignored. HB-390 was tabled to allow for preliminary discussion on a bill denouncing Sharia Law. It is expected to pass next session.

HB 398, introduced by Joseph Weber, D-Salt Lake City

The contents of this bill remain unclear as Rep. Weber stood, not speaking, at the podium for the first five minutes of its presentation. Pauline Mason, D-Salt Lake City, came to his side and whispered excerpts of his prepared remarks into his ear, but Weber remained motionless for another minute before shuffling back to his seat, sniffling and eyes downcast.

" All they can do is say no. All they can do is say no.  All they can do..."
HB 401, introduced by Jill Douglas, R-St George

HB 401 proposes that the state legislature be given the formal authority to declare war on neighboring states "should the matter be deemed necessary and just." Douglas argued that she was "making a stand against the federal government usurping authority that belongs to the states." She added that there was "no substance" to rumors that she intended to annex Northern Arizona and refused to comment on earlier remarks that Utahns would be "welcomed as liberators" if conflict erupted. After some discussion HB-481 was sent back to committee to more precisely define whether alcohol bought in other states constituted an act of war. If the bill comes back for a vote it could face opposition from the party's libertarian wing, which remains suspicious of engaging foreign states.

Never again.
So while some pundits, lawmakers, citizens, reporters, centrists, non-mormons, and lawmakers will tell you the Utah House of Representatives is too focused on ideology over responsible policy, never let anybody argue they're doing nothing. Like many right-thinking people, the legislators realize that Liberty, to be frank, is kind of a clumsy idiot. If we don't guide her along every step of the way, she'll probably fall on her face and screw everything up. She needs the occasional push or she's content staying where she's always been, expecting people to come to her while the immoral socialists destroy everything. We have to throw her over our shoulder and carry her, because....what? No, I don't see how this metaphor is demeaning to women. Look, everybody knows that Liberty is a chick, and I don't mean all...okay, this is being taken way out of context, and...

8 comments:

  1. I thought I loved the one about legislating skirt lengths . . . and then I read about three bureaucratic committees created to look into the ways to end bureaucratic redundancy. Good times. Makes me want to see the Salt Lake Acting Company's production of "Saturday's Voyeur."

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  2. What a fun twisted state I live in.

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  3. Liberty is blind? Sounds like just the sort of ridiculous thing the Utah House of Representatives wants you to believe...

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  4. Are these real? I know the first one is, but are the rest?

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  5. I'm pretty sure these are satirical, though like all good satire, it's hard to tell. I like HB 398, though--it's probably my favorite.

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  6. My biggest concern publishing this was that some stray legislator would read these and take it as inspiration. Meanwhile, rest easy that they're not real yet. Also, there aren't that many LaVerls in the government as far as I know.

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  7. To be fair to anyone who reads these as real and so Casey does not have to be responsible for someone taking these as viable ideas, last year the Utah legislature did debate HB210 proposed by Rep Curt Oda (R-Clearfield) and SB57 proposed by Sen. Dennis Stowell (R-Parowan): competing solutions for dealing with feral cat populations. While the latter recommended setting up sterilization colonies, the former took a more hands-on-approach by permitting citizens with firearms to have the legal right to shoot the feral cats.

    And that's the fun thing, Utah is not the lone body of legislation that talks about these options and solutions to problems. But there are times, like in the case of the feral cat law or the sex ed bill, that the reality looks like it is a parody or satire of itself.

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  8. And as it happens the Utah House in particular, owing to Utah's demographics and voting patterns, tend to produce a lot of very right-wing, religiously-influenced legislation. No doubt other states do similarly silly things, but Utah is a brand of silliness I'm very familiar with :)

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