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Spring Brings About Unusual Legislation

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During the first week of May lawmakers from two states received media spotlight by considering legislative issues.

A new measure approved by the Louisiana legislature last Tuesday implied that Charles Darwin was responsible for the racist ideologies of the late 19th century and for Adolf Hitler’s persecution of Jews, according to Salon.com.
“Be it resolved that the Legislature of Louisiana does hereby deplore all instances and ideologies of racism, and does hereby reject the core concepts of Darwinist ideology that certain races and classes of humans are inherently superior to others,” read the resolution proposed by state Rep. Sharon Broome, D-Baton Rouge, which was approved 9-5 by the state’s House Education Committee.
Although the resolution does not rise to the level of law, it urges the state’s education system to “address the commonalties of people groups and the weaknesses of Darwinian racism.”
Critics said the bill could open up the state to ridicule uncovering that the race card is only another attempt by creationists to remove evolution from public education.
Last Wednesday, Alabama lawmakers came to a dead end trying to choose between two bills concerning a statewide vote on Ten Commandments displays.
Sen. Gerald Dial, D-Lineville, introduced a bill allowing public schools to display the Ten Commandments. It passed the Senate and needed further approval, which would put it on the statewide ballot in 2002, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.
However, state Rep. Ken Guin, D-Carbon Hill, said such a proposal was “lukewarm” and didn’t go far enough. In a new bill, Guin endorsed “the teachings of Jesus Christ” and authorized government displays of “religious writings, paintings, prints and symbols” in public schools.
Supporters of the Ten Commandments accused Guin of trickery and trying to block Dial’s bill, while yet a third similar proposal, sponsored by Rep. Greg Wren, D-Montgomery, was pending in the Senate.
Wren’s bill does not require voter approval and would allow public school displays of the Ten Commandments alongside the Magna Carta, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence.
Earlier this year, Oklahoma lawmakers found a way to penalize political candidates for lying about their opponents’ voting records.
The Oklahoma house passed a bill subjecting candidates and their campaign committees to fines of up to $50,000 if they published or broadcasted inaccurate information about the voting record of another candidate for state office, according to Associated Press.
Alex Smirnov is BCE’s research assistant.