It’s hard during the typical Alabama Legislative session to pick out the dumbest piece of legislation offered up for consideration by the men and women we send to Montgomery. We couldn’t hope to pick only one, so we picked five.
5. The “anti-riot” bill
When is a “riot” simply five Black guys standing around? When the Alabama Legislature gets to define it. And that’s precisely the definition that the legislature, led by Republican Rep. Allen Treadaway, attempted to apply, as it responded to a summer of George Floyd protests. The bill also broadened the scope of who could be arrested, essentially allowing for the arrest of any individual present at a protest if others are arrested for violence.
The bill was obviously drawn up to address the Floyd protests and other Black Lives Matter protests around the country, but Treadaway seemed to forget the Jan. 6 insurrection. Under their bill, which they proclaimed repeatedly wasn’t directed at only Black protesters and was very necessary, every person who was on the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6 could have been arrested and detained for 24 hours. Including many of their close friends.
4. The “anything they want COVID treatment” bill
During the COVID pandemic, there was no shortage of pandering lawmakers pushing insanely dangerous legislation in an attempt to win favor with the segment of society who couldn’t grasp the benefits of public health and safety measures.
Sen. Arthur Orr’s bill that would have forced medical facilities and doctors to provide patients with any “treatment” the patient requested was one of the strangest. Apparently in response to doctors refusing to prescribe drugs such as hydroxychloroquine – because, you know, it didn’t work – Orr wanted to make it illegal for patients to be denied any treatment they wanted. It was an insane response to the COVID pandemic, but it would have really beefed up Alabama’s illegal prescription drug trade.
3. The “permitless carry” bill
Rarely do the public pleas from law enforcement groups, district attorneys and county sheriffs go ignored by the Alabama Legislature. Unless we’re talking about putting more guns on the street, no matter the costs. Rep. Shane Stringer brought the controversial bill during the 2022 session and essentially boxed his Republican colleagues in during an election year by putting them in position to oppose a supposed “pro-second amendment” bill.
Of course, nowhere in the 2nd amendment are states prevented from exercising reasonable preventative measures to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. Cops from one end of the state to the other said the bill would make them less safe and seriously hamper their ability to take guns off the streets. Didn’t matter.
2. The “Divisive Concepts” bill
Rep. Ed Oliver’s divisive concepts bill was possibly the most unconstitutional bill offered up during the 2022 session. It blatantly placed a prior restraint on free speech – a rather large no-no if you care at all about the constitution and laws and stuff – and sought to limit diversity efforts. The bill sprang forth from the idiotic discussion surrounding critical race theory, or CRT, as Republicans across the country sought to cash in on scaring white people with talk of equality.
At its roots, CRT is a college-level — often graduate school-level — framework that examines the role centuries of racism have played on current government agencies and processes, such as our legal system. It was turned into a means to vilify teachers and educators at all levels, and push back against equality efforts, such as diversity and inclusion training, by painting all of those things as agents of the “woke left” that want white people to be endlessly apologetic. Maybe Democrats should have countered with a bill that challenged white people to be less dumb.
1. The “anti-transgender” bills
No bills were more harmful, more unnecessary or more meanspirited than the slate of anti-transgender legislation that dominated the final days of the 2022 session. From a bill that criminalized performing gender-affirming care and that forces school officials to “out” gay children to their parents to a bill that forced transgender kids to use a certain bathroom and that also included a “don’t say gay” provision, Alabama’s rightwing legislators made sure that the world knew that the lawmakers in this state don’t really care to understand the plight of transgender children and don’t really care if we put their lives at risk for absolutely no reason whatsoever.
At the end of the 2022 midterms, when the votes were tallied and the receipts hit the table, the GOP wasted billions of dollars to vilify and endanger children through legislation and pandering tactics that were wholly ineffective, if not outright counterproductive.