Twenty-eight is enough, at least according to one state legislator.
Missouri currently has a state animal, a state horse, a state fish and a state aquatic animal, a state bird and a state game bird, and 22 other state symbols. Each year legislation is offered that would create more. Last year the jumping jack was added as Missouri’s official state exercise.
Representative Tom Flanigan (R-Carthage) thinks that’s enough.
“Twenty-eight ought to surely cover it by now,” Flanigan told Missourinet.
He has offered legislation that would create an official state limit on official state things. The one-line bill would simply set that limit at the current 28.
He thinks the general public sometimes gets the impression that all the legislature does is consider new state symbols.
“They forget the hard work that’s put in on say the budget or the medical malpractice legislation or other things that take up a lot of time for the legislature, because what they really hear about are things like jumping jacks or the ice cream cone or things of that nature, and that’s what they think we do all day,” said Flanigan, “which obviously is not the case and those really only took up small portions of the legislative day.”
Such proposals often originate with students whose teachers want them to learn about how the legislative process works, but many lawmakers have criticized the proposals as a waste of time and suggested there are other ways for students to learn that lesson.
Flanigan suggests the bill could be expanded to say when someone wants to propose adding a new state symbol, they must propose replacing one of those already established.
“How many more symbols would we be able to come up with? Well we could probably come up with many, many more,” said Flanigan, “However you diminish the ones you’ve already decided were state symbols.”
Another avenue, he suggests, would be to start designating symbols at a more local level.
“Let’s start with county symbols. Let’s have the counties be able to designate parks, or certain portions of a county for famous people in those counties, because when you’re setting them with the state you’re looking at a whole wide variety of terrain and people and events and items.”
This year the legislature is again being asked to consider legislation that would designate “Old Drum” as the state historic dog and “Jim the Wonder Dog” as Missouri’s Wonder Dog, as well as bills that would make the white-tailed deer the official state game animal and designate a particular book as the official state work on the 1993 flood.
Flanigan’s proposal is HB 1350.