In 1976, Italian economist Carlo Cipolla write a light-hearted essay entitled “The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity.” One of the features of the essay is a matrix he created showing four types of people:
- The Intelligent or Hero – provides benefit both to others (society) and to themselves
- The Helpless or Martyr – provides benefit to others and harm to themselves
- The Bandit or Criminal – causes harm to others while benefiting themselves
- The Stupid – causes harm to others and to themselves
It is in light of that definition of “stupid” that I list these four bills. All of them have the potential to cause harm to both the sponsor(s) of the bill and to the rest of us. Most people who read the description of the bill would instinctively say “that’s a really bad idea.” They could add “that’s a really stupid idea,” and they’d be right.
Fortunately, two of the bills are stuck in the Committee on Committees, and one has been assigned to a committee and hasn’t moved. But one of the Stupid Four is on the move, and may even be approved in one chamber by the time you read this.
Here, then, is my list of Four Stupid Bills in this year’s KY General Assembly.
HB 288 – Allow concealed carry in schools, government buildings, and airports
As Rachel Maddow sometimes says, snarkily, about some proposal: “What could go wrong, amirite?”
Just imagine allowing concealed carry in these spaces. Not open carry, which would be bad enough – but at least you would know who around you was a potential shooter/killer. No, we’re going to allow anyone to carry a concealed weapon into our schools, our courtrooms, our council chambers, and the Capitol in Frankfort. And when some rage-filled person pulls out their Glock and starts firing at the judge, or their elected representative, or a room full of children, the sponsors of the bill will say plaintively “Who could have seen this happening?”
Thankfully, this stupid bill is stuck in the Committee on Committees. May it die a deserved death right there.
HB 49 – Can refuse to provide health care if it violates your religion or conscience
Of course, this began as a bill about abortion. But now, with abortion banned in Kentucky, one has to wonder why this bill was filed.
Let me fill you in: birth control. There is a contingent on the right that wants to do away with birth control, and this is one way to do it. “I can’t fill your prescription because it violates my religion.”
But of course, this bill’s results wouldn’t stop there. There are religious persons who are opposed to medication for emotional and mental health. If a doctor who is part of this religious community sees someone dealing with severe depression, this bill would allow them to tell the patient that they just needed to get over it, or pray their way through it.
This stupid bill is also still in the Committee on Committees. Perhaps it offends them.
SB 61 – Eliminate early no-excuse voting
Believe it or not, our Kentucky elections have been lauded by other states and voting advocates for all the changes enacted in response to Covid. One of those changes that pretty much everyone supports is the ability to vote early without having to have one of the absentee-voter reasons. In other words, you can just show up to vote some days before the actual Election Day.
And yet, Senator John Schickel wants to see this done away with, and force everyone back to voting on the Tuesday of Election Day. Got to work a long shift that day? Tough. Can’t make the transportation and the child care work? Sorry, you can’t vote this year.
Instead of expanding voting, this Republican senator wants to have less voting. Why? I’m not sure, but I’m going to bet that it’s because more Dems than Repubs take advantage of early voting.
This bill was assigned to State & Local Government on 1/8, and hasn’t moved since. I vote that it dies right there.
HB 141 – Make water fluoridation programs optional
I have two adult sons. One has pretty much perfect teeth. The other has experience a lifetime of cavities, pulled teeth, and generally horrible dental health.
When I asked one dentist why the difference between the two, he said one word: “Fluoride.” And as it turns out, the son with the great teeth spent his formative years in a town with fluoridated water; the other son did not.
And yet, with all the known benefits of water fluoridation, there is actually a bill in this year's legislative session to make such programs optional in Kentucky.
In a report on oral health in Kentucky, I found this statistic:
Studies show that water fluoridation reduces the rate of dental caries by about 25% over a person’s lifetime. The CDC recognizes water fluoridation as one of the most important public health interventions of the last century for its contribution to improved population oral health.
In 2012, Kentucky was #1 in fluoridation of its water systems, with 99.9% of the population receiving fluoridated water.
And yet, with all that scientific evidence, our legislature is considering making it optional – which means, for any water system that is run by a for-profit company, it will become a thing of the past.
Yes, this is really, really stupid. And people are calling it out. Here are two reactions from Twitter:
Unbelievably, this bill was reported favorably out of committee, has already had two readings, and has been sent to the Rules Committee for scheduling it for a third and final vote.
Perhaps if enough people call their House member and shout “what the hell are you thinking?!?” into the phone, this bill will die, instead of fluoridation dying.
PS – If you are as appalled at HB 141 as I am, you can take an action: call the Legislative Comment Line at (800) 372-7181 and ask your rep (or all House Members) to vote against HB 141.