Bringing Back the Chain Gang and Other Crazy Legislative Proposals

Introducing The Daily Beast’s weekly rundown of the wildest ideas being proposed—or passed—by state lawmakers.

Matt York/AP

A Direct Shot At Roe v. Wade

North Dakota’s state legislature this week passed what would be the nation’s strictest anti-abortion package, which would ban abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected, which could come as early as six weeks. Arkansas, which currently has the toughest abortion laws in the U.S., bans the procedure after 12 weeks. Republican governor Jack Dalrymple, who’s yet to signal his position, has until Wednesday to either veto or sign the package, which would likely be challenged immediately in court if it becomes law.

Chain Gang Revival

South Carolina State Rep. Bill Chumley (R) this week sponsored a bill that would enlist low-level inmates in modern-day chain gangs. The idea was first thought-up by a local sheriff, who said convict labor would shorten prison terms and save money for the state. “You work somebody six days a week, 12 hours a day, they don't have time to sit around and think about how to be stupid anymore," said Wright.

A True Toilet Paper Bill

Arizona state Rep. John Kavanagh (R) tried to slip an amendment into a bill this week that criminalize the use of public bath rooms, changing rooms and locker rooms that don’t match-up with the sex on the individual’s birth certificate. Violators would be subject to up to six months in jail, and the proposal aimed squarely at the transgendered earned Kavanagh—who last month said he feared a Phoenix anti-discrimination statue would “serve as cover for pedophiles”—the moniker Bathroom Birther.

Pistol-Packing Parishioners

The Arkansas State Senate this week approved a bill that would allow worshipers to carry concealed handguns into houses of worship. Similar provisions have also advanced in South Carolina, Wyoming and Louisiana in recent months, leading The Seattle Times this week to profile one of the churches in its state (where there are no laws baring guns from churches), which offers firearm training classes.

Criminal Homosexuality

More than 70,000 people have signed a petition supporting the efforts of Rep. Patricia Todd, a Democrat and the state’s first openly gay legislator, to repeal Alabama’s 1992 law requiring sex-ed teachers to instruct students that homosexuality is a “crime” and “not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public.” Perhaps ironically, Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin (R), who would prefer sex-ed be taken out of the curriculum entirely, is one of the key figures fighting to uphold the law.

Something strange happening in your state that we missed? Shoot us an email at [email protected]