Anyone following American state politics this spring has witnessed, time and again, bizarre legislative proposals. Most notably and seriously, dozens of state legislatures have put forward an avalanche of initiatives that target trans athletes and impose limitations on voting.
Beyond those, however, lawmakers have pursued a host of off-the-wall actions. Among many others, these include: (1) a Texas bill to allow any adult, regardless of background or mental health, to carry a gun without a permit; (2) Idaho legislation to create a “greater Idaho,” annexing much of eastern Oregon; (3) Iowa proposals to ban the discussion of diversity in schools and to prohibit schools from embarking on diversity planning; (4) Florida legislation that grants immunity from civil legal action for people who drive through protesters blocking a road; and (5) here in Kansas, an unwillingness to force the resignation of state senator Gene Sullentrop, after his wrong-way speeding, eluding police, and driving-while-intoxicated incident that could have ended in tragedy.
Still, state legislatures are notorious for pushing nutty ideas, so we should not be surprised. But why so many such proposals now, and why so much assertiveness by state legislature at present on issues like trans athletes and voting?