Arizona legislators shamed themselves last week by passing SB 1062, a bill that explicitly permits discrimination against gay people by both private businesses and state agencies. The result was widespread outrage: Both U.S. Senators from Arizona have come out against it, as has the business community, Republican voters, and — amazingly — even one of the senators who voted for it. At this point, pressure is mounting on Governor Jan Brewer to veto the bill, which she has until Friday to do.
This isn’t the first time Arizona has made headlines for passing outrageous, borderline-constitutional legislation. State lawmakers have a knack for this, and so, while we eagerly await Brewer’s decision on 1062, let’s have a look at some of the other terrible laws the Arizona legislature has approved over the last couple of years.
Giving The Governor A Private Army
Arizona has a National Guard. It also has private militias. Apparently, though, that just wasn’t enough in the way of statewide security forces, and so in 2011, lawmakers passed a bill authorizing the governor to fund her very own military force. The bill states that the governor can do this for any reason they deem necessary, and can fund the militia with state money otherwise intended for the National Guard.
Brewer signed the bill, because, duh, who wouldn’t authorize themselves to have their own private army? Oddly enough, a later bill to fund militias tasked solely with guarding the border failed.
Allowing Doctors To Lie To Patients
What’s most appalling isn’t that Arizona passed this law — it’s that Arizona was the actually the 10th state to pass this law.
Banning Internet Trolls
In yet another attempt to inject Big Government into the lives of unassuming Arizonans, Republicans in the state House of Representatives passed HB 2549, which makes it illegal to "terrify, intimidate, threaten, harass, annoy or offend" anyone else online.
The parts about threatening and intimidating people are understandable (though possibly unconstitutional), but "annoy or offend?" That would most likely result in ... how to phrase this ... an empty Internet, as everything on the web offends somebody. Think about it: Even puns would be against the law! Thankfully for freedom-lovers and YouTube commenters across the state, the bill never made it to the governor’s desk.
Actually Requiring Racial Profiling
Also known as the “Papers, Please” law, SB 1070 passed in 2010, and attracted national attention for its totalitarian approach to immigration enforcement. The law required that state law enforcement stop and ask for citizen documents from anybody whom they had a "reasonable suspicion" might be in the country illegally — which, critics pointed out, was essentially legislated racial profiling. The Supreme Court later blocked several components of the law after the Justice Department sued, but kept the "papers, please" provision in place. Insanity. Not to mention:
Legalizing The Murder of Cyclists
In Arizona, motorists have to keep at least three-foot distance between them and any bicyclists they pass — that is, unless the bicyclist commits the cardinal sin of straying outside of the bike lane. In that case, it’s open-season, baby.
The law contains a loophole stating that, if a biker is hit and/or killed in the street by a car when there was a bike lane nearby, the driver is off the hook for any civil liability. Look, it’s annoying to be stuck behind a slow-moving bicyclist, but running over the bicyclist isn’t the best solution to that problem.