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Meanwhile, in Opposite Land…

Tuesday, May 16, 2023 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Tennessee

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has signed off on additional protections for gun and ammunition dealers, manufacturers and sellers against lawsuits within a bill that lawmakers passed after a deadly school shooting in March.

The Republican governor quietly signed the legislation Thursday. Its provisions kick in on July 1.

The state Senate gave final passage to the bill in mid-April, just weeks after the March 27 shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville that killed six people, including three 9-year-olds. The House had passed it before the shooting.

Lee’s choice to sign the bill comes as he keeps pushing for the same Republican lawmakers, who hold supermajorities in the House and Senate, to pass a proposal that aims to keep guns away from people who could harm themselves or others. Lee plans to call lawmakers back into an August special session that aims “to strengthen public safety and preserve constitutional rights” after they adjourned last month without taking up his “temporary mental health order of protection” proposal. His office hasn’t released the parameters of what version of that proposal, or others, will be considered in the session yet.

The expansion of civil immunity for gun companies was hardly in doubt after lawmakers passed it. Lee has never issued a veto, which lawmakers would have the numbers to override. However, he occasionally has allowed bills to take effect without his signature to signal his concerns or disapproval of a policy.

* Florida

A Florida teacher under a state investigation for showing a Disney movie featuring a gay character said she wasn’t aware the state’s controversial law banning instruction about certain LGBTQ topics had been recently expanded to apply to her grade level.

The legislation was first passed in March 2022 and initially applied to kindergarten through third grade. Last month, Florida’s state education board voted to expand the law’s scope to include all grades through high school. Teachers who violate the state policy can be suspended or have their teaching licenses revoked.

“I just found out today that they increased it to my level,” the fifth-grade teacher, Jenna Barbee told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota Monday night. “I had no idea whatsoever that this was such a big deal.”

Barbee says she played the 2022 animated Disney movie “Strange World” to a classroom of fifth graders while their peers were finishing some standardized testing.

* Florida

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law Monday banning the state’s public colleges and universities from spending money on diversity, equity and inclusion programs.

“If you look at the way this has actually been implemented across the country, DEI is better viewed as standing for discrimination, exclusion and indoctrination,” DeSantis said during a news conference at New College of Florida in Sarasota. “And that has no place in our public institutions.”

Many institutions across the U.S. have DEI offices aimed at diversifying staff and to promote inclusivity for faculty and students.

The location of the bill signing is notable as DeSantis has targeted New College of Florida to put it in a more conservative direction. Earlier this year, he appointed six new members to the school’s board of trustees, putting conservative allies in control of the board. He accused the school’s leadership of overemphasizing DEI, critical race theory and gender ideology, which he characterized as not “what a liberal arts education should be.”

* DeSantis…

* Texas

Texas has taken a major step toward banning transgender minors from getting puberty blockers and hormone therapy — care that medical groups say is vital to their mental health — after the state House approved Senate Bill 14 on Monday.

Trans Texans and LGBTQ advocates consider the bill one of the most consequential pieces of legislation in this year’s legislative session. It would ban trans people younger than 18 from getting certain transition-related care. Kids already accessing treatments would have to be “weaned off” in a “medically appropriate” manner, the bill says. It also would ban transition-related surgeries, though those are rarely performed on kids.

The House formally approved the bill in a 87-56 vote Monday largely on party lines, though some Democrats once again defected to vote in favor of the bill. They include state Reps. Harold Dutton of Houston, Tracy King of Batesville, Shawn Thierry of Houston and Abel Herrero of Robstown. The bill will now return to the Senate, which has already passed a version of the legislation that mandates an abrupt cutoff in treatments instead of a tapering-off process. The Senate can now ask for a conference committee to iron out the difference — or accept the House’s changes and send the bill to Gov. Greg Abbott.

As SB 14 advances, Texas — home to one of the largest trans communities in the country — is moving ever closer to joining over a dozen states in restricting transition-related care for minors. The American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal have already raised legal challenges against several of them.

* Nebraska

Nebraska lawmakers are set to take up debate late Tuesday on a plan that would tack on a proposed 12-week abortion ban to a bill that would ban gender-affirming care for transgender minors.

The combination of the two highly contentious measures sets up what could be one of the most volatile debates of the session.

Technically, lawmakers are slated to take up the final round of debate on the trans health bill, which has already advanced from the first two of three rounds it must survive to pass and go to Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen’s desk. But because legislative rules don’t allow amendments to be attached to bills in the final round, lawmakers will debate whether to send the bill back for a second round of debate in order to add the abortion amendment to it.

Opponents of the move plan to filibuster for the entire two hours of debate allowed in the final reading of a bill. Conservatives in the unique single-chamber, officially nonpartisan legislature will need 33 of the body’s 49 senators to vote to end debate before the plan to merge the two issues can move forward. If they fail, both the abortion and trans health measures will be shelved for the year.

* Nebraska

The trans health bill has been the most contentious this session, prompting Omaha Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh to follow through on a promise to filibuster every single bill before the body — even ones she supports — unless conservative supporters pull it. Her efforts greatly slowed the work of the Legislature this year, forcing lawmakers to package bills together and endure grueling 12-hour and sometimes 15-hour days to pass legislation.

Omaha Sen. Megan Hunt joined Cavanaugh’s effort when the bill advanced from the first round of debate in March, revealing during the debate that her 12-year-old son is transgender.

The proposed abortion restrictions have drawn fierce pushback from those who argue that the state already limits abortion to 20 weeks of pregnancy and that restricting access further violates women’s rights to have autonomy over their own bodies.

The six-week ban was derailed last month when Riepe withheld his vote to end a filibuster over it. Riepe was an original cosigner of the bill, but later worried that six weeks wouldn’t give women enough time to even know they’re pregnant. Since then, he has been praised by abortion rights proponents, but he’s also endured calls from fellow Republicans for his resignation and censure.

Sen. Cavanaugh is related to Statehouse lobbyist John Amdor.

* Kansas

Kansas’ Democratic governor vetoed state funding on Monday for a project long advocated by a Democratic lawmaker who broke ranks to override the governor’s vetoes and give Republicans crucial support for laws restricting abortion and rolling back transgender rights.

Apparently, Rep. Marvin Robinson’s decision had consequences.

Gov. Laura Kelly axed $250,000 in the next state budget for drafting a state plan to develop the Quindaro Ruins in Kansas City, Kansas, which Robinson represents. Quindaro was a short-lived town and a station on the Underground Railroad that helped enslaved people escape to Canada. A proposal to build a landfill there in the 1980s led to an investigation of the site and the discovery of multiple buildings’ foundations.

Robinson, who is Black, advocated for the site’s restoration and development as a national historic landmark for several decades before he won an open House seat last year. Democratic leaders called on him to resign after he voted to override Kelly’s veto of a measure banning transgender female athletes from girls’ and women’s sports, giving Republicans the supermajoirty they needed.

* Virginia

The Virginia Department of Elections maintains a Twitter account that primarily shares updates on upcoming elections and info on how to vote — but for at least a few hours on Thursday, May 4, it was following an election-denying conspiracy theorist.

The official account — with a little over 12,000 followers — normally doesn’t follow anyone, but on May 4, it followed Ivan Raiklin, bringing the number of accounts it followed to one.

Raiklin is a conservative best known for promoting the conspiracy theory that Mike Pence could overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Raiklin, who ran in the Republican primary for Tim Kaine’s senate seat in 2018, wrote a memo in December 2020 — retweeted and apparently endorsed by Donald Trump — claiming that Vice President Mike Pence could block certification of the 2020 election results on January 6, 2021.

* North Carolina

The president of the North Carolina Bar Association faced immense backlash from the group’s committee for LGBTQ+ equality this week, after he canceled a planned drag trivia night and suggested that the committee “present both sides” of the debate about drag culture instead.

That way, NCBA president Clayton Morgan said, the committee wouldn’t be “perceived as trying to advance just your agenda on the world,” according to a recording of his remarks shared with The Daily Beast on the condition of anonymity.

The trivia night was in the works for many months, but the political stakes for progressives in North Carolina have recently escalated. In April, a Democratic state representative switched parties, thereby giving Republicans a veto-proof majority in both the state House and Senate. Later that month, Republican legislators proposed a new bill that would criminalize hosting drag shows on public property.

The bar association’s committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity had scheduled their drag trivia night for June 8, but on May 5, the group’s members received an email from Morgan telling them that the event was off.


  1. - Jerry - Tuesday, May 16, 23 @ 12:32 pm:

    Those xtians in Big Government, Socialist, Red States sure are vindictive.

    I dont think the Main Jesus taught: “if someone is not like you…make their lives miserable”.

  2. - Jerry - Tuesday, May 16, 23 @ 12:35 pm:

    So it looks like the guv’mint in North Carolina is banning the movie Mrs. Doubtfire. And Republicans are so arrogant about lecturing the rest of us on the Constitution and the 1st Amendment.

  3. - Arsenal - Tuesday, May 16, 23 @ 12:35 pm:

    In FL you can get investigated for playing a PG movie but DeSantis won re-election so how dare you say he’s a failure.

  4. - Cook street - Tuesday, May 16, 23 @ 12:37 pm:

    Sad and scary that the opposite land report gets longer and longer.

  5. - Soapbox Derby - Tuesday, May 16, 23 @ 12:45 pm:

    The title of this article “Opposite Land” is openly negative and hardly worthy of any journalistic objectivity.

  6. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, May 16, 23 @ 12:49 pm:

    === is openly negative===

    Says who?

    The title is about how other states are very different from this one. You think that’s bad… or good?


  7. - JS Mill - Tuesday, May 16, 23 @ 12:49 pm:

    =Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has signed off on additional protections for gun and ammunition dealers, manufacturers and sellers against lawsuits within a bill that lawmakers passed after a deadly school shooting in March.=

    The USSC won’t support this since it is not does not have a long time historical foundation./s

  8. - Steve Rogers - Tuesday, May 16, 23 @ 12:55 pm:

    @Jerry, the only amendment that matters to Rs is the 2nd amendment, and add to that, of course, those amendments in which Rs are the victims, then there’s performative outrage.

  9. - Tony DeKalb - Tuesday, May 16, 23 @ 12:56 pm:

    Every single day I’m so glad I live in Illinois. This helps reinforce that. Holy moly.

  10. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, May 16, 23 @ 12:58 pm:

    …Also, there is no commentary posted here. Just names of states.

  11. - Arsenal - Tuesday, May 16, 23 @ 12:58 pm:

    ==The title of this article “Opposite Land” is openly negative and hardly worthy of any journalistic objectivity.==

    This is nonsense. Sorry you’ve noticed that all of this stuff sucks. Good luck working the refs.

  12. - Jocko - Tuesday, May 16, 23 @ 1:02 pm:

    ==August special session that aims “to strengthen public safety and preserve constitutional rights”==

    In other words, discuss gun control while forbidding any discussion of ‘gun’ or ‘control’.

  13. - Jerry - Tuesday, May 16, 23 @ 1:06 pm:

    Well played, Rich. Next thing they’ll be shaving their beard like you did.

  14. - Perrid - Tuesday, May 16, 23 @ 1:15 pm:

    Clayton Morgan wants both sides? Sure, here they are:
    Bigots: “Hey trans people, go die in a ditch where we don’t have to see you”
    Trans people: “We’d prefer not to die, actually”
    Those are the two sides. The fact that Clayton wants to pretend to wrong his hands and say it’s a tough decision is sickening

  15. - Roadrager - Tuesday, May 16, 23 @ 1:18 pm:

    I’m no expert on government or demographics, but reshaping an entire state to cater to right-wing senior citizens who are averse to paying taxes and dependent on government services, and doing so by specifically targeting people who do not fall into said group, does not seem especially sustainable.

  16. - Loyal Virus - Tuesday, May 16, 23 @ 1:28 pm:

    I’m glad I live in Illinois. That’s it. That’s the post.

  17. - Norseman - Tuesday, May 16, 23 @ 1:33 pm:

    To the snowflakes, they should be happy with the short post today. There is enough craziness by the MAGA GOP to exponentially increase the length of the post.

  18. - Candy Dogood - Tuesday, May 16, 23 @ 1:59 pm:

    Opposite land is a little closer to home than we like to think.

  19. - Siualum - Tuesday, May 16, 23 @ 2:07 pm:

    I enjoy the “Opposite Land” news items. Like others have said, makes me glad to live in Illinois.

  20. - OneMan - Tuesday, May 16, 23 @ 2:31 pm:

    == The title of this article “Opposite Land” is openly negative and hardly worthy of any journalistic objectivity ==

    There are plenty of folks in Illinois who would view these actions, if taken in Illinois, as a positive. They also reflect an opposite viewpoint from how Illinois addresses these issues.

    The fact some may think that sharing this information is a ‘negative’ view of those states is certainly their right.

  21. - Arsenal - Tuesday, May 16, 23 @ 2:50 pm:

    ==I’m no expert on government or demographics, but reshaping an entire state to cater to right-wing senior citizens who are averse to paying taxes and dependent on government services, and doing so by specifically targeting people who do not fall into said group, does not seem especially sustainable.==

    I mean, it could be so long as you’re sure blue state seniors will keep moving in.

    But then there’s climate change…

  22. - Occasional Quipper - Tuesday, May 16, 23 @ 3:24 pm:

    I think the “Opposite Land” news items are fine. I like to hear about states who are doing things right. For example, does everyone here really think it’s a good idea to let teenagers make the decision to become irreversibly medically sterilized before they even reach 18? If they can make a decision that important, why do we not allow them to vote until they are 18?

  23. - Manchester - Tuesday, May 16, 23 @ 3:47 pm:

    “But then there’s climate change…”

    Yeah, but opposite land doesn’t believe in climate change either Arsenal.

    IL is not without some of our own issues but frankly, it looks like a better place all the time.

  24. - Arsenal - Tuesday, May 16, 23 @ 3:55 pm:

    ==Yeah, but opposite land doesn’t believe in climate change either Arsenal.==

    Right, but the bill comes due, regardless. This is why house insurance is spiking in FL, and anecdotally, I have some friends who can afford the insurance, they’re just sick of the hurricanes.

  25. - Grandson of Man - Tuesday, May 16, 23 @ 3:56 pm:

    “A Florida teacher under a state investigation for showing a Disney movie featuring a gay character”

    But DeSantis supporters got in a lather and fumed that “don’t say gay” is a misleading description of the “don’t say gay” law.

    Republicans today would have made the USSR proud.

  26. - JS Mill - Tuesday, May 16, 23 @ 4:00 pm:

    =The fact some may think that sharing this information is a ‘negative’ view of those states is certainly their right.=

    Yeah, but we do not have to care.

  27. - Gravitas - Tuesday, May 16, 23 @ 5:32 pm:

    Former Chicago mayor and current Ambassador to Japan, Rahm Emanuel is being criticized for meddling in political affairs in Asia.

    Not sure, if this qualifies as “opposite land” or “similar land” as Emanuel caught flak here too.

  28. - Someone - Tuesday, May 16, 23 @ 5:36 pm:

    None of these types of laws will pass here. Most commentators here know this. Why bother? Are you attempting to cope and seethe that out migration to these states is possible?

    This section becomes more of a joke with each posting.

    “Keep it Illinois Centric” - says the guy who posts about opposite land

  29. - Danny0 - Wednesday, May 17, 23 @ 7:30 pm:

    Occasional Quipper, what on earth are you talking about? None of these laws have anything to do with medical sterilization of minors. You can still have children after having an abortion, after taking hormones, and after reading…*books with gay people in them*. Oh my if this really what people believe we are all doomed. If you care about kids lives, regulate guns. It’s the #1 cause of death among children.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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