It’s that wonderful time of the year again, when lawmakers pre-file their pet proposals before the legislative session officially begins in January. While last year’s collection was relatively tame, many of the 2013 bills are so off the wall that we had to expand this year’s list! For best results, have the following song playing in the background as you read the list:
1. Criminalizing Obamacare - Rep. Bill Chumley (R-Spartanburg) introduced a bill he’s calling the “South Carolina Freedom of Health Care Protection Act,” which would essentially criminalize the enforcement of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Any federal official caught enforcing Obamacare in the Palmetto State will be charged with a felony, under Chumley’s bill, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. State officials who try to enforce Obamacare (including the part which prohibits insurance companies from dropping sick children who have “pre-existing conditions”) face up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Sen. Mike Fair (R-Greenville) introduced an identical bill in the Senate.
Sen. Lee Bright (R-Spartanburg) introduced a similar bill in the Senate called the “Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act,” which would punish any state of federal official who tries to enforce “any aspect” of the law by up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine. Upstate Republicans sure are fighting hard to defend our right to get screwed over by insurance companies!
2. Doubling lawmakers’ salaries - Rep. John King (D-York) introduced a bill that would set state lawmakers’ salaries at $50,000 per year, including per diem pay for meals and housing. Lawmakers currently take home $10,400 per year, plus a $300 per diem stipend for each day the State House is in session. A 2010 investigation by The Nerve found that the average total salary for a state lawmaker is $32,000 per year, which means King’s bill would nearly double the General Assembly’s pay. Not a bad job, if you can get it!
3. Giving police dogs a “license to bite” – Sen. Larry Martin (R-Pickens) introduced a bill that would exempt police dogs from the liability for attacks during the line of duty. Now we’re just playing Devil’s Advocate here, but if police dogs are considered officers when they’re injured or killed while on duty, then shouldn’t their bites be considered police brutality?
4. Targeting illegal immigrants with the death penalty - Sen. Ronnie Cromer (R-Newberry) introduced a bill that would prohibit the Probation, Parole and Pardon Services Board from recommending that the governor issue a pardon, reprieve or commutation of sentence for an illegal immigrant facing the death penalty. In other words, even if it’s later determined that an illegal immigrant on Death Row may have been wrongfully convicted, the board still couldn’t ask the governor to keep him from being executed. Cromer’s incredibly heartless and slightly racist proposal would deny someone their Fifth Amendment right to due process solely because of their nationality and legal status — which is itself a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment as well. If only Sen. Cromer had also thrown in some cruel and unusual punishment, he could have gone for a three-amendment hat trick!
5. Free exercise of religion in government meetings - Sen. Lee Bright (R-Spartanburg) introduced a bill that would prohibit state and local government bodies from restricting the free exercise of religion during its proceedings. This is a great example of an idea that might sound good in theory, but is terrible when implemented — kind of like communism or the War in Iraq. Sen. Bright is trying to give local governments freedom to hold prayers before meetings, but we can’t wait to see the look on the ultra-conservative senator’s face the first time somebody starts praying to Allah in the middle of a city council meeting!
6. Sharia Law, the phantom menace - Sen. Fair also introduced a bill that would prevent any law established outside the United States from being enforced in South Carolina. Fair’s proposal is aimed at preventing Islamic Sharia law from taking root in the Palmetto State, which is about as likely as the zombie voters scenario Republicans have been crowing about all year. Meanwhile, the text of Fair’s legislation would have the unintended side effect of nullifying international laws like the Geneva Conventions.
7. An obsession with prison sex-changes - Sen. Bright also introduced a bill that would ban the state from paying for gender reassignment surgeries for inmates. This is despite the fact that South Carolina has never paid for a prisoner’s sex change, and has only one transgender inmate among 23,000 prisoners. Bright’s measure is a re-hash of a bill introduced a year ago by Sen. Kevin Bryant, but apparently senators want to focus on prison sex-changes again. Who knows what kind of kinky things they’ll be talking about next legislative session!
8. Total deregulation of SC-made firearms - Last but certainly not least, Sen. Bright also introduced a bill which would make any firearm or gun accessory manufactured and retained in South Carolina exempt from all federal gun regulations. While Bright’s measure would not legalize automatic weapons, it would specifically allow South Carolinians to use silencers and banana clips. Thank you, Sen. Bright, for giving us the freedom to silently shoot dozens of people at a time! You’re a true patriot.