AS WINTER TURNS to spring and a multibillion-dollar state deficit blooms, I figure you'd like an update on your Legislature's progress.
I know, I know, you think that the nation's largest full-time Legislature with the nation's largest staff is too preoccupied with a corruption probe into its practices and tut-tutting over Vince Fumo to get much done.
Just last week, the Democratic-run House unanimously adopted a resolution making this week "Maple Producers Week."
Sponsored by Rep. Martin Causer, R-Cameron County, the resolution has 68 proud bi-partisan co-sponsors, including Philly Democrats Mark Cohen and Bob Donatucci. It says that "Maple producers deserve recognition" for their role in the state's economy.
I say, pass the pancakes.
Then, as if that weren't enough work for one day, the House also passed (171-19) a resolution calling for "Earth Hour 2009" this Saturday from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Sponsored by Rep. Tim Briggs, D-Montgomery County, it has 37 co-sponsors and asks everyone to turn out all lights for an hour to address global warming. It also urges Gov. Rendell to order "all lights in all Commonwealth buildings" switched off, too.
Could make for a fun Saturday night at Graterford, eh?
The 19 "no" votes were Republicans, including conservative Rep. Sam Rohrer, of Berks County. He says that if the Legislature doesn't stop dealing with "silly things" and start addressing budget woes, "we'll be turning the lights out everywhere."
Can anyone think it silly to introduce legislation permitting the limited hunting of woodchucks on Sundays? Certainly not Rep. Bob Godshall, R-Montgomery. He got the bill into the Game and Fisheries Committee last month.
Fair warning: Watch your woodchucks on Sundays.
How about legislation making it a crime to install or reinstall "fraudulent airbags"? Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R-Montgomery County, has that in the Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee.
This actually sounds like a good idea that should have been law years ago. It's just, I thought that installing or reinstalling "fraudulent airbags" was a reference to legislative elections and re-elections.
Speaking of good ideas, there's a pending bill naming the Eastern Box Turtle the official state reptile. The sponsor is Rep. Lawrence Curry, D-Montgomery County, (what's with that county, eh?). It was introduced last month and awaits action in the State Government Committee.
I don't know how we've managed without a state reptile. But, I bet if voters could pick one, a number of current and former lawmakers would be in the running.
The State Government Committee also has a bill sponsored by Rep. Tina Pickett, R-Sullivan County, naming celestite (a vitreous crystal) as the state's official mineral.
My, what a busy committee that must be.
(So busy that last year it couldn't get around to moving a redistricting reform bill to make legislative campaigns competitive - in a year that 98 incumbents or candidates faced no opposition in the General Election. The committee's chaired by Philly Democrat Babette Josephs.)
Don't look for any of these worthy measures to be law soon. The Legislature fought years over naming a state cookie. Chocolate chip? Sugar? Oatmeal? Who can choose? Some Coatesville fourth-graders started the chocolate-chip campaign in 1996, so some of those kids are finishing college by now.
And while U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter's Web site says that the chocolate chip is the state cookie, the official designation hasn't happened.
Oh, and no other legislation has passed this year, either. Not one bill. The Senate passed some anti-drug and mortgage reform measures. The House passed some bills, too. But you'll just have to wait for both chambers to agree on any new laws.
Meanwhile, enjoy "Maple Producers Week." And keep your fingers crossed for that box turtle.
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