Summary of legislative session: denial of rights, denial of science


The patterns that jumped out from the past legislative session were denial in two senses of the word: denial as in “it’s not real”, and denial as in “you can’t have that”. Bill after bill, debate after debate, the legislative Republicans ignored what science told them about the subjects of their bills, and they acted as if only people who tend to vote Republican should get a full set of rights.

Those of you spending time on this site during the session should find all this familiar. Big E collected them in a handy list with links to specific posts so I’m partly working off that and the comments, and the patterns seem clear.

Look at the individual rights that came under attack, most prominently the attempt to write marriage discrimination into the Constitution, but that’s hardly all the rights the GOP tried to deny:

  • Women’s rights came under attack in the form of restrictions on abortions after 20 weeks, abortion access for low income women, and the removal of equal pay requirements from local governments;
  • Voting rights were attacked in the form of a photo ID requirement a large minority of Minnesotans can’t meet, all groups that tend to vote DFL, and if photo ID ends election day registration, that ends the voting rights of people who move frequently like students and many low income people with housing problems;
  • The right to organize was attacked with an attempt to strip collective bargaining rights from teachers, and an attempt to put a prohibition of unions collecting dues through paychecks (guaranteeing a minority of workers can outvote the majority by not paying their share and thereby bankrupting the union) into the state Constitution;
  • The right of access to health care would have been denied to more low income people if the GOP had their way on Medicaid;
  • The “burger bill” that would have prohibited customers from bringing suits against the fast food industry is an attack upon the right to petition for the redress of grievances, which in judicial terms means a right to sue;
  • Free speech came under assault in making it a crime to show video from large scale livestock operations, like slaughterhouses, and in a copy of a new Florida law that prohibits doctors asking patients about their guns;
  • The right to a safe workplace was attacked by an attempt to eliminate the state smoking ban in bars and restaurants — apparently safety is too good for those $100,000 waiters;
  • The attempt to require drug tests of welfare recipients without suspicion of illegal activity violates the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure;

As for the other denial, of science:

  • Attempted to ban stem cell research because it involves cloning, while refusing to learn what it actually involves (hint: not the clone production of Brave New World);
  • Republicans not only tried to deny global warming, they put their denialist beliefs into the whereas clauses of bills;
  • The 20 weeks limit on abortions is about fetal pain, even though the evidence says fetuses don’t feel pain at that stage;

Those are physical sciences, but the social sciences caught a bit of it too, like denial of the history of the US Constitution to claim we were founded on the bible, and like the denial of economics required to believe laying off public workers will create jobs, while hiring workers for construction projects destroys jobs. Here’s a special mention for a twofer, Kurt Bills, who ignored both economics and history, as well as the US Constitution, to push for a state currency.

Just to make sure the point isn’t lost, the point isn’t the catalog. The point is the patterns:

When science clashes with conservative ideology, ideology wins;

When people don’t support Republicans, Republicans try to take away their rights.