Here's an update on some of the legislative efforts that Lowering the Bar has been tracking.
- Maine's legislature has passed LD 126, the bill I mentioned in February that allows one-armed citizens to use switchblades. The governor is expected to sign the bill into law shortly. According to the new report, Maine will be the first state to enact this exception, although, as I noted previously, it's already part of federal law. The only amendment to the state bill was to bring it into line with the federal provision by limiting it to blades of three inches or less. Such blades, as you know, are 100% safe.
- Meanwhile, Florida lawmakers are again debating whether to make bestiality illegal, a proposition that they have twice failed to pass. SB 344, which "prohibits specified activities with an animal," passed unanimously on March 29. The companion bill in the House has made it out of committee, but that doesn't necessarily mean it will pass because the House is where both prior attempts failed. Explanations for that result vary, but according to one representative, "[my colleagues] just don't like to discuss sex and animals."
- Florida lawmakers are, however, moving ahead with their plan to make it illegal to take a picture of a farm. They have at least amended SB 1246 so that farmphotocrime would be only a misdemeanor – originally it was a first-degree felony, more serious than manslaughter. That version of the bill is currently in the Committee on Criminal Justice, the Committee on Agriculture having voted unanimously in favor.
- I noticed that the chairman of the latter committee is Sen. Gary Siplin (D-Orlando), who has appeared here twice before: in 2006 for jumping over a fence to escape reporters who wanted to ask him about an indictment, and again in 2008 for sponsoring legislation to punish students who wear their pants too low. Coincidentally, Siplin has just issued a press release trumpeting the fact that SB 228, a new version of what he calls his "Pull Your Pants Up Legislation," passed the Florida Senate unanimously. It also seems to be on track in the House.
- While some have questioned so-called "global warming," Montana Republicans not only accept it, they endorse it. HB 549, introduced in February, would declare the official state policy on global warming to be that it "is beneficial to the welfare and business climate in Montana." (Translation: Screw you, coasts.) It also makes the legiscientific finding that said warming is unaffected by human activity. The most recent report on this one, though, is that it has been tabled in committee and is "probably dead."
- Finally, I notice that the Montana bill states that it is referring only to "global warming" as an increase in average temperature, and specifically excludes any warming caused by "a one-time, catastrophic release of carbon dioxide." This makes me a little concerned about what somebody may have planned up there, especially in conjunction with the effort to clarify that it is legal to hunt big game in Montana with hand-thrown spears. Probably something else we need to keep an eye on.