Two Republican members of the Virginia House of Delegates have introduced legislation opposing the United Nations' Agenda 21, the international organization's nonbinding sustainability program.
State Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter (R-Woodbridge) has put forward a resolution calling on the state Legislature to oppose the U.N. program, while state Del. Danny Marshall (R-Danville) has filed a bill banning the implementation of Agenda 21 in Virginia.
Agenda 21, which promotes land use planning and walkable communities, was signed in 1992 during an international climate change conference in Brazil and has not been ratified by the U.S. Senate in the succeeding two decades. Although the U.N. program has been endorsed by four U.S. presidents, it does not have the force of law in the United States.
Nonetheless, Virginia is the latest in a line of states where Republican lawmakers have recently introduced legislation to either prohibit the implementation of Agenda 21 programs or bar the participation of local governments in the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, a group that has promoted ideas contained in Agenda 21. Agenda 21 has become a favorite target for Tea Party members and the John Birch Society, which has promoted state action to stop the plan.
Marshall's legislation does not mention the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives by name, but rather forbids state and local governments in Virginia from pursuing programs on Agenda 21, which was again discussed at a U.N. environmental conference in Brazil last year. The resolution from Lingamfelter, a candidate for lieutenant governor this year, describes Agenda 21 as a "radical plan" that would end private property rights in the U.S.
Several other states have similar bills pending or discussed such legislation in 2012. Alabama adopted a law banning Agenda 21 last year, while Kansas lawmakers passed a resolution opposing the concept.
In November, New Hampshire state Rep. Lenette Peterson (R-Merrimack) told HuffPost that research from the John Birch Society showed that Agenda 21 was being implemented in the U.S. Peterson has introduced legislation to prohibit the program in her state.
Neither Marshall or Lingamfelter returned calls for comment.
This is the second U.N. issue being addressed by Virginia lawmakers this year. State Sen. Steve Martin (R-Chesterfield) has introduced a resolution calling on the state to oppose an arms trade treaty that the U.N. is due to finalize in March. Martin is also a candidate for lieutenant governor.
Anna Scholl, the executive director of Progress Virginia, told HuffPost that she expects the U.N.-related bills to do well in the state's Republican-dominated Legislature. She said Agenda 21 has been talked about before.
"There has been chatter at the local level with the Tea Party," Scholl said.
In addition to the bills proposed in various states, then-Georgia state Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) last year hosted a four-hour workshop for GOP senators on Agenda 21, conducted by a birther activist who had been expelled from the Georgia Tea Party. During the workshop, state lawmakers were told that President Barack Obama and the U.N. are using mind control to implement Agenda 21 and that the program would ban scuba diving and floor and wall tiles, among other things. The lecture also compared Obama's rural policies to the genocidal efforts of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and Chinese dictator Mao Zedong. Rogers later said he did not know the content of the lecture in advance.
Democrats have largely opposed the anti-Agenda 21 efforts. Last year, then-New Hampshire state Rep. Christopher Serlin (D-Portsmouth) described the movement as "real tinfoil hat material." During a debate on his state's anti-Agenda 21 resolution last year, then-Kansas state Rep. Mike Slattery (D-Mission) condemned his colleagues for considering the issue: "Stupid is as stupid does," he said.