Be sure to notice just how many of these bills have already been passed.
JEFFERSON CITY — A year after Republicans took control of state government, conservative lawmakers are promoting a wide range of social legislation designed to rein in sex and unshackle the Bible.
From new limits on sex education classes to penalties for living in sin, the proposed laws would remake Missouri’s public life in myriad ways. They would sanction prayer in public schools, subsidize religious schools and allow the Bible to be taught in school.
One bill purports to help women make “the transition from work to home.” Another wants the legislature to recognize “a Christian God” as the deity for most Missourians.
Rep. Cynthia Davis, an O’Fallon Republican and sponsor of several bills, said conservatives are tired of an overly permissive society in which high school students are taught how to use condoms.
“It’s time to get back to the basics,” Davis said. “Our country has been hijacked by liberals. We’ve had people with left-wing ideas pushing us away from what made America strong.”
The standoff over conservative legislation was evident last week when Democrats challenged a bill that would change the mission of the Missouri Women’s Council, a tiny state agency that since 1985 has been an advocate for working women.
Instead of working on job security and child care, the council would “assist and support women when making the transition from work to home” or while working at home.
Rep. Cathy Jolly, a Kansas City Democrat, said the bill undermines the Women’s Council, which was created to help women deal with workplace issues such as pay equity, child care and health care. It was not set up to help women decompress after they leave the work force, she said.
Rep. Rachel Storch, a St. Louis Democrat, agreed.
“Women have worked so hard for equal opportunity in the work force,” Storch said. “It appears to many that this is trying to send women back to the kitchen.”
Democrats referred to the legislation as “the Betty Crocker bill,” saying it’s a throwback to the 1950s.
“I find that kind of offensive,” said the bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Marilyn Ruestman of Joplin. “I believe the other side of the aisle is playing politics.”
The bill, Ruestman said, is simply meant to clarify that the role of the Women’s Council is to provide informational resources to women. The council has only one employee and is not equipped to be an advocacy agency, she said. That was the reason language on child care and workplace issues was deleted.
Ruestman said the language about “making the transition from work to home” is aimed at helping women who want to establish home businesses.
The bill was approved Monday by the House.
Sen. Jason Crowell, a Cape Girardeau Republican, introduced a bill that would allow school districts to teach classes on the Bible as history, literature, comparative religions or other academic subjects.
Crowell said he introduced the bill at the request of school administrators in his district. He said they want to start a class on the Bible but are afraid of being sued.
“The Bible is the most quoted text in the history of mankind,” Crowell said. “I don’t think it is a problem to incorporate it into the statutes of Missouri.”
No one testified against the bill during a public hearing last month. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education took no position. But spokesman Jim Morris said the department considers the bill unnecessary because nothing prohibits schools from teaching about the Bible now.
In 2004, 33 Missouri school districts used the Bible in class. In 2005, 19 districts reported using the Bible: 16 districts had 573 students enrolled in comparative religion classes, and three districts reported 211 students in Bible as literature courses.
The bill was approved by the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday.
Davis introduced a bill that would eliminate the requirement that sex education classes include information about various forms of contraception, including failure rates and each form’s ability to prevent disease.
Instead, the bill would have teachers tell students that they can get information about contraception, abortion and pregnancy from their doctor. The bill also would ban Planned Parenthood from providing sex education classes in public schools.
The bill was amended by a House committee to require sex education classes to include several politically charged ideas. The classes would have to teach that life begins at fertilization and that an unborn child has “sensory awareness” long before birth.
Critics said the bill fails to consider that many students do not have access to a doctor. But Davis said parents are supposed to list a doctor on student enrollment forms. Poor children have access to physicians either through Medicaid or free clinics, she said.
Students who smoke or are overweight need individual attention before they begin using contraceptives, she said.
“Isn’t it prudent to have students get information from someone with medical training rather than a public school teacher?” Davis asked.
Schools could still teach about contraceptives, she said, but they would not be required to include such information in sex education courses.
The bill was approved Thursday by the Rules Committee and sent to the House floor,
Rep. Mike Cunningham, a Marshfield Republican, is sponsoring legislation that would require all state agencies, universities and colleges, public schools, and even cities and counties to “use the traditional name” of all recognized holidays when referring to them.
Christian conservatives criticized President Bush last year for sending cards that said “Happy Holidays,” instead of “Merry Christmas.”
“My daughter’s a schoolteacher,” Cunningham said. “She has to be careful how she phrases things. They’ve got their set terms they have to use to be politically correct.”
However, Cunningham said he could not cite any specific examples or point to any school district or government agency that forbids using traditional holiday names.
Other bills would:
■ Deny alimony to ex-spouses who live with a boyfriend or girlfriend.
■ Ban all abortions.
■ Provide tax credits for contributions that help kids in lousy school districts to attend private schools.
■ Propose a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to pray in schools and on other public property.
■ Allow pharmacists, insurance companies, doctors and hospitals to deny treatment if the procedure or medication offends their moral values.
■ Propose a constitutional amendment to allow the Ten Commandments to be displayed on public property.
Why are parts of my country so committed to moving backwards in time, when the rest of the world is reaching forward?
**clings to you**