It’s still January but state governments are on a roll proposing silly legislation

Jeff Winkler Contributor
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It’s not yet even February, but lawmakers are already dumping an armload of bad ideas onto their respective state governments. The sheer ridiculousness of a few proposed laws has resulted in some legislators quickly abandoning their efforts with a shrug and an excuse. “Haha! J-K. I didn’t really think it would actually GO anywhere.”

On Tuesday, for instance, Arkansas state legislator Jimmy Jeffress abandoned his proposed bill banning pedestrians from using headphones on the sidewalk or street. Oh well. It was a bad idea while it lasted, which was about 24 hours.

Jeffress said in proposing the legislation he simply wanted to begin a “conversation” about the dangers of listening to Justin Bieber distracted bipedalists. In the days following the immediate backlash, however, Jeffress admitted he caved to pressure from opponents.

In New Jersey, assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker proposed a law requiring every bicyclist 15-and-over to register with the state, pay a bi-yearly fee and attach an actual license plate to their 10-speed. A week after the legislation was proposed and about a day after the story began to make the rounds, Tucker dropped her bill and blamed crotchety old people for causing a stir about degenerate gangs of teenage bikers.

Despite being easy targets for the nation’s collective ridicule,  Arkansas and New Jersey aren’t the only states that have legislators proposing silly laws in the new year.

Vermont legislature needs to put a bag around its head

Earlier this week, legislation was introduced that would ban plastic bags in all Vermont stores. There are only a few problems with this: (1) It’s Vermont (2) It’s a plastic bag ban (3) Even weirdo California bagged similar legislation.

Crazy gunman leads to not so crazy action

Almost a week after the tragic shooting in Arizona, a Virginia state senator decided to drop his proposed bill that would have decreased the restrictions imposed the mentally ill to buy a concealed weapon. Not that the two were related.

It wasn’t the concept that perhaps a firearm in the hands of someone with a history of confusing Jodi Foster with the voice of God may not be the best idea that led W. Roscoe Reynolds to nix his legislation. It was just a “misunderstanding.”

“When I started hearing about the misunderstanding, I contacted [the Commonwealth’s Attorney] and indicated to him that there was a great deal of opposition that had been generated to this measure,” said Reynolds, according to Capitol News Service.

Clearly, the mentally well lacked some of Reynolds’ mental acumen.

Stay in school or we will watch your every move

Lawmakers all over country have been freaking out since the Arizona shooting. As is always the case with such meltdowns, it’s the children who suffer.

Take South Carolina, where state Rep. Chip Limehouse has proposed a law that would require schools to turn over the records of any “disruptive” student who drops out.

As if societal stigma isn’t enough, South Carolina’s failed youth could now face the judgmental glare of Big Brother.

At least Montana has some sense when it comes to letting kids be. Legislation raising the age at which teenagers can legally drop out of school, from 16 to 18, failed to even make it out of committee last week in their state legislature.

There’s nothing smarter than someone knowing and accepting his or her limits, but proponents of the legislation don’t see it that way. One Montana superintendent said kids need an incentive to stay in school. One can only hope Montana doesn’t get any ideas from South Carolina, although nothing incentivizes someone like the fear that the government is writing up its own detention list.

Colorado has no heart … or at least refuses to give it away willy-nilly

Within a week, a bill that would have automatically classified all Colorado drivers as organ donors was both proposed and voted down.

Even though 66 percent of Coloradans already volunteer to be (potential) donors, the bill’s author said the public just doesn’t get what the state is trying to do.

“There is a lot of misinformation out there, and people are scared and upset,” said state Sen. Lucia Guzman, according to the Denver Post. “It’s just causing too much fear.”

While the bill would have had an “opt-out” option, Guzman just can’t imagine why anyone 16 and up would have an issue with implicit consent. “[There’s] so much need for it,” said Guzman. “The whole goal was to save lives, but people are not well with it.”

Hope isn’t lost for those figurative bleeding hearts who want to “save lives.” As Denver Post columnist Vincent Carroll remarked, if Guzman is still concerned with procuring much-needed organs, she could introduce legislation allowing people to freely choose to sell their own insides. To do that, though, Guzman would most likely need a particular pair of donated organs herself.

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