Saturday, July 23, 2011

Congratulations, Arizona

Our state easily defeated all other contenders for the top spot in AlterNet's list of the "Ten Craziest State Legislatures in America." This is especially impressive when you consider that the competition included Wisconsin, Florida, Michigan and Texas. But in the end, it wasn't even close.

The rundown of major embarrassments and flights from sanity that have caught national attention is, of necessity, abbreviated. Left out, for instance, is the absurd refusal to accept federal funds to extend unemployment benefits, a bonehead move that costs the state millions of dollars a week.

Moreover, of strictly regional interest is the irrational hostility to Tucson and Tucsonans. The attack on our local ethnic studies program is part and parcel of that. This hostility is also manifest in the move to usurp local control over our redevelopment district and place it in the hands of appointees from the Governor and the Republican legislative leadership. This tyranny from Maricopa County has led to an active secession movement to found the state of Baja Arizona.

It's hard to pick which is the craziest law considered on the floor of of our state capitol (now leased from its private ownership). Guns in barrooms? Bans on teachers with foreign accents? ID requirements for presidential candidates? The ban on human-animal hybrids? There's no shortage, and you can be assured of future outrages in the next session.

But less amusing is the way this impacts ordinary peoples' lives - or ends them prematurely. It's a dubious honor, to be sure, but it helps to have outside confirmation that we're not imagining the extent of our nightmare here. My state is crazier than your state.

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