Saturday, February 22, 2014

Halfway through painful legislative session

On this last Saturday in February, snow is falling and more is promised. On the plus side, the legislative session is half over. But that also means two more weeks of nuttiness from Republicans. I try unsuccessfully to keep up with the "Cheyennigans," the new term for legislative goings on. So I have to depend on the crusty commentary of others:

In today's post at Blowing in the Wyoming Wind (reprinted in the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle), Rodger McDaniel explores the influence of American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) bills in Wyoming. He concludes: "And Wyoming voters thought their representatives were dreaming up these crazy bills on their own!" Read some of my commentary on ALEC here and here. Here's the editorial cartoon the WTE ran above Rodger's column:

Veteran reporter Geoff O'Gara covers the legislature for Wyoming PBS. He wrote a column on Feb. 21 wondering if lawmaking in WYO hasn't become too complicated for the four- and eight-week sessions of the "citizen legislature." The Lege is proud of its part-time status. Yet is increasingly grapples with the world's complicated issues -- energy policy, education issues, healthcare, technology -- and a budget that now exceeds $3 billion. Despite conservatives' pipe dreams of returning to a golden era when men were men, women were in the kitchen, kids were in the one-room schoolhouse and the flocks were in the fields, Wyoming can't avoid the 21st century.

Kerry Drake was upset on wyofile on Feb. 18. He wrote about two Republican bills (one in the House and another in the Senate) that proposed turning every teacher in the state into a pistol-packin' mama or papa. Those bills mercifully died yesterday when they failed to get their first reading in their houses of origin. So much for gun-totin' in schools (until next year, anyway).

Wy Pols is a feisty new Facebook page that takes on the excesses of WYO Repubs. It features all sorts of snark and memes and gifs. Sen. Charlie Scott (R-Wacko County) is a favorite target of late. Not necessarily a bane to conservatives (who probably don't "Like" it) but it has been a delight to us Liberals. Here's a sample:

Wy Pols has been excerpting chapters from a 1980s book by new state legislator Troy Mader (R-Wingnuttia). Mader was named by Campbell County Commissioners to take the place of Rep. Sue Wallis, who died suddenly on Jan. 28. The commissioners may not have been aware of Mader's publishing efforts. In his 1987 book, "Death Sentence: AIDS," Mader blamed “homosexual terrorism” for the AIDS crisis and advocated for sexual and actual quarantine of people with HIV/AIDS. You can find Mader's complete list of must-read batshit-crazy books on the Wyoming Authors Wiki.

Mader's rise to prominence made its way to the pages of the Think Progress blog. Wyoming politics are quite popular on prog-blogs. It's too bad, really, since Wyoming is home to a thriving arts scene, good writers, a growing local food movement, some nifty creative placemaking ventures and award-winning craft beers. Not to mention bitchin' landscapes and wonderful people. But crackpots live amongst us, and their utterances are tempting fodder for bloggers such as yours truly. This is Republicans' Achilles Heel -- retro beliefs is an increasingly interconnected world. Their wacko POVs can fly around the world on the Internets. And, yes, we have the Internets in WYO. True, it's coal-powered and will remain so until I can get the high school kid down the street to patch me into the nuclear fusion reactor he built in his garage.

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