After the election of the presidents of the House and Senate, and the distribution of each chamber’s permanent committees, the 2019 legislature is fully underway. And lawmakers have wasted no time in doing what they do best: proposing bills.

In the lower house alone, almost 900 bills have been submitted already, covering a wide variety of topics. Putting it lightly, a significant part of them are neither urgent, necessary, or particularly intelligent. Here are some of the most eye-catching bills of 2019 so far.

Brazil above everything, God before everyone

During his victorious campaign, President Jair Bolsonaro repeated his now ubiquitous motto: Brazil above everything, God above everyone. Judging by the first month of the legislature, many of the representatives elected on his coat-tails are taking this to heart.

The very first two bills submitted to the House of Representatives this year came from the desk of Pastor Sargento Isidório, a curious candidate from the Northeast city of Salvador. A religious preacher and former member of the military, Mr. Isidório boasts that he is a “former homosexual,” and while initially declaring his support for defeated Workers’ Party candidate Fernando Haddad in the 2018 election, he flipped to Jair Bolsonaro, claiming that Mr. Haddad “is gay.”

The best-voted representative in the state of Bahia, the man of God and the military got in ahead of the queue on February 4 and submitted Bills 1 and 2, both concerning the bible. The first consists of two lines only, declaring the Holy Bible as National, Cultural and Immaterial Heritage of Brazil and Humankind.

Then, in a seemingly incongruous move, the pastor issued Bill 2, declaring it illegal to use the terms “Bible” or “Holy Bible” in any print or online publication that doesn’t refer to the “millennium-old sacred texts of the Christian faith.” The misuse of the term would be defined as larceny. The proposal ends with a plea to the man upstairs, in capital bold letters: GOD HAVE MERCY, PROTECT THE BRAZILIAN FAMILY, ALERT THE AUTHORITIES AND SAVE OUR NATION!

Indeed.

Somebody please, think of the children

A common theme in the avalanche of bills submitted to the House is education. Despite being voted down last year, the “School without [political] parties” program is back on the agenda. The platform aims to curb the perceived “ideological indoctrination” in Brazil’s schools, and outspoken congresswoman Bia Kecis, from Jair Bolsonaro’s Social Liberal Party (PSL), has tried to put the measure back on the agenda.

Pastor Eurico, from the far-right Patriota party, submitted a similar bill, little more than 30 minutes after Ms. Kecis.

However, the program is set to face significant resistance, and a group of members of Congress from the left-wing Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL) submitted a bill to instate their own education program: “Schools without muzzles.” Contained in Bill 502, the first article of the proposition guarantees teachers the right to express their opinion, as stated by the Constitution.

Getting your priorities straight

With the country divided politically, unemployment high and economic growth sluggish, it is crucial that the legislature set an example and create laws to improve things in Brazil. Among these essential propositions is the proposal of Renata Abreu, from the Podemos party, to award the São Paulo city of Franca the title of “Brazilian Basketball Capital.”

Or what about congressman Rubens Bueno, making the world a better place by proposing a federal law to make the town of Arapongas, home to roughly 100,000 people, the “National Furniture-Making Capital”?

Spare a thought for the residents of Urupema, a tiny town of 2,000, which congresswoman Angela Amin is desperate to aware the title “National Capital of Cold Weather.”

These measures are largely vanity projects for members of Congress, an attempt to thank their voting bases in their home states. Expect many more before the year is through.

Upholding tradition

Odd proposals are nothing new to the Brazilian legislature, and are often even weirder at a municipal level. Here are some of our favorites from around the country:

Bus stops painted after football clubs

Porto Alegre, the capital of the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, is the home of two rival football clubs: Grêmio (who play in blue) and Internacional (who play in red). Bus stops in the city are traditionally painted blue, but one city councilor wanted to paint those close to Internacional’s stadium red. The paint itself would be paid for by the football club, and at first glance, the bill doesn’t cost the city anything. Except for one small detail. The mayor paid the wages of the painters. We all know that Brazilians love football, but this is taking it up a notch.

Be fruitful and multiply

In 1997, the mayor of Boicaiúva do Sul (located in the southern state of Paraná) wanted to forbid the sale of condoms and all other forms of contraception. The reason: as the local population was decreasing, the funds that the city received from the federal government were also being reduced. More babies would equal more money. The mayor gave up on the idea just 24 hours later, following massive public outrage.

Alien spaceship airport

The Roncador Mountains, in the mid-western state of Mato Grosso, attract many people who – for reasons unknown – want to see aliens. So in 1995, the mayor of Barra do Garças sectioned off a part of the mountain to be used for UFO landings only. Thankfully, no construction for alien spacecraft landings has begun as of yet.

Mind your spelling

In Pouso Alegre, located in the state of Minas Gerais, the city council approved a law fining citizens for grammatical errors on billboards and advertising hoardings. It inspired another town, Guarujá, a municipality of São Paulo, to approve a similar law the following year. Although to be honest, we can’t say this one bothers us too much.

Not on weekends, please

No doubt, the 1990s were the time for thinking-outside-the-box lawmaking. In 1998, a federal law to prevent environmental crimes was passed. But it included a curious detail: punishment would be harsher for infractions committed on weekends. The alleged reason was that fewer law enforcement officers patrol on Saturdays and Sundays. A useful bit of info for the outlaws among us.

Bike airbags

City counselors in São Paulo tried to pass a law in 2004 that would require motorcycle riders to use airbags. It… erm… didn’t pass.

Read the full story NOW!

PowerFeb 17, 2019

Tags: -

BY Euan Marshall

Euan Marshall is a Scottish journalist living in São Paulo. He is co-author of A to Zico: An Alphabet of Brazilian Football.