Thom Tillis speaks to supporters at a election night rally in Charlotte, N.C., after winning the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate Tuesday, May 6, 2014.
Chuck Burton/AP

Thom Tillis tackles germ theory

The right’s awkward relationship with science lately includes more examples than it probably should. The evidence comes to mind without much effort: Republican hostility towards climate science, contraception, evolutionary biology, and this week, even vaccinations.
Is it time to add germ theory to the list?
Freshman Sen. Thom Tillis likes to tell a story about why he doesn’t believe government should require coffee shop employees to wash their hands after using the bathroom.
“Just to give you an idea of where my bias is when it comes to regulatory reform,” the North Carolina Republican said Monday, before telling the story at a discussion at the Bipartisan Policy Center.
As Tillis’ story goes, the North Carolina Republican was in the state legislature in 2010 when he had a notable conversation at a coffee shop. “I was having a discussion with someone, and we were at a Starbucks in my district, and we were talking about certain regulations where I felt like ‘maybe you should allow businesses to opt out,’” he said.
As example of the kind of regulation Tillis could do without, he pointed to a requirement that employees must wash their hands after using the restroom.
“I said: ‘I don’t have any problem with Starbucks if they choose to opt out of this policy as long as they post a sign that says “We don’t require our employees to wash their hands after leaving the restroom,” Tillis added. “The market will take care of that.”
Remember, a month before he was elected to the Senate, the North Carolina Republican based much of his closing message on, of all things, Ebola.
As Zandar joked, “We’ve gone from ‘Ebola is going to kill us all because our public health system is a nightmare’ during campaign season to ‘We’re the most regulated country ever, why do we even need to make people wash their hands?’ three months later.”
For what it’s worth, I have no idea what federal and/or state regulations are in place for coffee-shop employees. For the sake of conversation, let’s say Tillis is correct and there are legal requirements about workers washing their hands after going to the bathroom.
If I understand his argument, the North Carolina senator would let Starbucks opt out of one regulation (hand-washing) in exchange for another (a mandated sign that says “We don’t require our employees to wash their hands after leaving the restroom”)? Is that what constitutes “regulatory reform” for Tillis?