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Fringe Factor: Wendy Davis Is a Terrorist

Our weekly roundup of far-out statements from our fearless political leaders. By Caitlin Dickson.

State officials love throwing around the term “terrorism,” while others are extremely distraught about immigration reform. Never a dull moment on the fringe of American politics.

Texas: Wendy Davis Is a Terrorist

Wendy Davis’s impassioned—and effective—10-hour filibuster in the Texas Senate elicited a lot of emotional reactions, but perhaps none as melodramatic as that of Republican State Senator Bill Zedler. Furious that Davis and her supporters prevented passage of a sweeping abortion bill that would, among other things, close almost all of the abortion clinics in Texas, Zedler lashed out on Twitter. “We had terrorist[s] in the Texas State Senate opposing SB5,” he tweeted. Terrorists.

Tennessee: Complaining About Drinking Water Is Also Terrorism

State officials were pretty fast and loose with the term “terrorism” this week. A Tennessee civic group released a recording from a May 29th county meeting during which Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Deputy Director Sherwin Smith warned residents complaining about their water quality that, if their claims were unfounded, they could be guilty of terrorism. “We take water quality very seriously. Very, very seriously,” Smith said. “But you need to make sure that when you make water-quality complaints, you have a basis. Because federally, if there’s no water-quality issues, that can be considered under Homeland Security an act of terrorism.” Residents in attendance were appalled, as Smith’s comments were taken as a way of silencing numerous complaints that local children were getting sick from drinking the water.

Texas (And Elsewhere): Immigration-Reform Freakout

This week, an immigration-reform bill—offering a path to citizenship for many undocumented immigrants—passed the U.S. Senate. The move was heralded as a bipartisan victory by some, but certainly not all. Many of the bill’s Republican opponents (it was approved by all Senate Democrats) lashed out, while others, like Ted Cruz, calmly put their faith in the House of Representatives to kill it. Before the vote even took place, the senator from Texas tweeted a warning that, “If the Gang of 8 bill passes, those newly legalized are exempted from Obamacare. HUGE incentive for employers to hire them instead of Americans.” When The Washington Post’s fact-checker deemed this statement completely inaccurate, Cruz freaked out on Fox News and said, “I would be very curious if the columnist who wrote that—who works for The Washington Post, which has more employees—how he would feel about it if they decided to fire him and hire someone who was here illegally because it was $5,000 more expensive to hire a U.S. citizen to write that column.” Cruz’s chief of staff, Chip Roy, has also made his feelings about the bill and its supporters clear, retweeting a post that calls out Republican supporters of the amendment that enhances border security as “selling out America.”

Iowa: Need an Abortion? Talk to the Governor

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad may have agreed to expand Medicaid coverage for his state’s poor residents under Obamacare, but don’t think that means he’ll be handing out free abortions to any low-income Iowan who comes knocking. Anyone seeking a covered abortion must go through Branstad first. Seriously. Included in the state’s Medicaid expansion legislation is a clause requiring the governor’s approval for any medically necessary abortions to be covered by insurance. And by medically necessary, that means an abortion for a pregnancy caused either by rape or incest or that endangers the life of the mother. So, it is basically up to one man, Gov. Branstad, to determine which rape or incest victims, or fatally pregnant women, deserve to have their abortions paid for by Medicaid, and which don’t.

Pennsylvania: Even Talking About Gay Marriage Violates “God’s Law”

Pennsylvania State Representative Brian Sims just wanted to share his excitement about the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling against the Defense of Marriage Act with his fellow members of the State House, but his colleagues were not having it. When Sims, who is openly gay, stepped onto the House floor Thursday to discuss the Court’s move, he was silenced by several legislatures citing “God’s Law.” Though Sims insisted he wasn’t trying to convert or criticize gay marriage opponents, he wasn’t allowed to talk -- and neither were the other Democrats who tried to speak on Sims’ behalf. As Republican Rep. Daryl Metcalfe explained, “I did not believe that as a member of that body I should allow someone to make comments such as he was preparing to make that ultimately were just open rebellion against what the word of God has said, what God has said and just open rebellion against God’s law.”