The curtain seems close to falling on Act 1 of the 2011 session of the General Assembly, also known as The Great Undoing.
“Great” as in widespread. Throughout government, this session has shuttered programs, altered missions, rearranged agency departments and jettisoned thousands of state workers.
“Undoing” because what’s been done through the budget and other legislation isn’t just for the sake of belt-tightening or efficiency. The GOP leadership is on an ideological search-and-destroy mission to erase years of progress in education, elections, public health, the courts, environmental protections, consumer protections and, well, you name it.
This is a Legislature not content with turning back the clock (now the most overused metaphor in the history of state politics). They are ensuring that once we get to the past, we’re stuck there.
Last week, the pace quickened. Debates turned sloppy as House and Senate leaders whipped their chambers to pass dozens of bills before the crossover deadline: the cutoff for legislation to be passed by one chamber and still be viable.
Hammered through were sweeping new restrictions on abortion and abortion providers, including a 24-hour waiting period and mandatory sonograms, a ban on state and federal services for undocumented aliens that probably won’t survive a constitutional challenge, a return to 1970s-era rules on regulations and a Voter ID bill that The New York Times recently described as having “a whiff of Jim Crow.”