New Feature: Kill This Bill! | Off Message

New Feature: Kill This Bill!


This just in: Lawmakers in Montpelier are churning out bills like mad. And some of them are just plain goofy. To that end, we're introducing a new feature for Off Message: Kill This Bill! A look at the worst, weirdest, silliest and biggest-waste-of-time proposals to emerge from under the Golden Dome.

To date, House lawmakers have introduced 280 pieces of legislation, while their Senate counterparts have offered 112 bills. Most of those will never even get a hearing, much less become law. Hell, some don't even originate with the lawmakers who put their names on them — it's routine for legislators to file bills at the request of constituents back home.

But that doesn't mean lawmakers won't spend precious time considering this stuff. Exhibit A: Tomorrow afternoon, the House General, Housing and Military Affairs Committee is set to tackle the pressing matter of what should be the state dog. For reals. Rep. Warren Kitzmiller (D-Montpelier) and many others are sponsoring H.171, "An act relating to recognizing as the state dog any adopted dog."

To which we say, kill this bill!

Now, before you dog lovers unleash Cujo on my canine-criticizing ass, let me just say that I love dogs. Heck, I grew up with a disease-ridden black Lab named Jack that we loved till the end — even after he contracted some flesh-eating disease that made his hindquarter look like Darth Vader's head when he took off the helmet in Return of the Jedi.

But do we really need a new law designating as the state dog "any adopted dog"? Shit, we'd probably have a line of mutts outside Gov. Peter Shumlin's office demanding an audience. They'll be all, Yo dawg. I'm the State Dog. I want a meetin' with the gov!

Seriously, though, shouldn't our elected officials be debating more important things, such as serious shortfalls in the transportation and general funds, proposed cuts to successful antipoverty programs, meaningful gun-safety legislation and end-of-life choices?

In fairness to the state dog bill, it's hardly the only goofy state emblem legislation this year. Later tomorrow, the House General committee will also take up H.188, "An act relating to designating the Mount Holly mammoth tooth and tusk as the official state terrestrial fossil." Evidently, the Legislature had already designated an official state fossil: the white whale fossilized skeleton. So this bill by Rep. Dennis Devereaux (R-Belmont) would re-designate the white whale as the state marine fossil, to make room for the mammoth tooth becoming the state terrestrial fossil.

Rep. David Deen (D-Westminster), an avid angler who chairs the House Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources Committee, has introduced H.189, a bill designating the official state fly-fishing fly as the Governor Aiken bucktail streamer. There's also a bill — with six House cosponsors — to designate the painted turtle as Vermont's official state reptile, which as my colleague Tyler Machado pointed out, seems a little redundant since the painted turtle already became the state reptile due to the efforts of Cornwall Elementary School students in 1994.

Oh, and don't forget the bill to make kale Vermont's official state vegetable. Otherwise known as the safest piece of legislation you could ever put your name on.

Vermont loves its state emblems, and I'm not hating on them. OK, maybe I'm hating on them a little. But only because there's serious shit to deal with. The Legislature only has four months to get its work done before lawmakers hightail it back home for summer recess. Even if these bills only take a little time, is it maybe just a little too much?


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