Virginia Needs An Official State Pollinator?
When I was a columnist for The Virginian-Pilot I could always count on the commonwealth’s part-time citizen legislators to give me at least one entertaining piece every January with nutty bills they introduced at the start of the General Assembly session.
Shoot, in a good year, even late-night comics would mine the list out of Richmond for joke material.
Remember Norfolk Del. Algie Howell’s infamous “Droopy Drawers” bill? The one that would have made it illegal and punishable by a $50 fine for any man in Virginia to wear pants hanging below his derriere? That gem caused the entire nation to laugh at us and gave headline writers license to dust off puns like, “An Embarrassment of Britches”.
Howell’s proposal became such a distraction that an emergency meeting was held that winter to kill it.
My favorite bill came in 2007, however, when then-State Sen. Ken Cuccinelli of Fairfax - who would go on to become attorney general and almost governor in 2013 - introduced what I dubbed the Mr. Magoo Motorcycle Mandate.
At the behest of one of his visually impaired constituents who was itching to get on a Harley, The Cooch proposed that those who wear “bioptic telescopic lenses” - little telescopes embedded in glasses - should be allowed to drive motorcycles.
What could possibly go wrong?
Virginians with these lenses were permitted to drive cars - during the day - but were banned from driving trucks, school buses or cycles.
That bill failed. Not sure even Cuccinelli voted for it.
I read through hundreds of bills that were filed this year - the things I do for y’all! - and I’m sorry to report that the amusement factor is low.
They’re just not trying hard enough in the capitol.
I did, however, notice that our part-time citizen legislators are as fond as ever of adding inane items to the official state list. You know, the one that makes milk the Official State Beverage and Chesapecten jeffersonius Virginia’s Official Fossil.
By the end of this session we may finally have an Official Soft Drink. That would be Northern Neck Ginger Ale. A beverage 99 percent of Virginians have never heard of nor tasted. Bottoms up.
Then there’s HB1259 designating the Virginia Oyster as the First Food of Virginia.
This is a bad idea. Lots of good Virginians don’t like - or don’t trust - oysters. These worrywarts fret about contracting hepatitis from raw bivalves and won’t even eat them, roasted or fried.
The first food of Virginia should obviously be Smithfield bacon. Everyone eats that. Yes, I know, a Chinese company bought Smithfield Foods a couple of years ago. The bacon remains delicious.
Our lawmakers seem to love insects and HB1875 would name the European Honey Bee the Official Pollinator of Virginia. I have no idea why an immigrant bee is getting statewide recognition. Not sure I approve.
As if we didn’t have enough drama with the state song over the years - and “Carry Me Back To Old Virginny” is still on the list as Virginia’s “Song Emeritus” - we now have a candidate for Official State Folk song: “Virginia, The Home Of My Heart.”
I checked the lyrics. Nothing about slaves or masters.