House committee speaks butterflies and jumping jacks
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House committee speaks butterflies and jumping jacks

Date: March 8, 2012
By: Crystall Cho
State Capitol Bureau

HB 1266, HB 1063





A state butterfly and a state exercise generates a controversy among Missouri legislators.
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Wrap: Missouri currently has a list of state symbols including the state song, state rock, state tree, and even a state tree nut.  

Missouri lawmakers are considering two additions to this list.

Not all Missouri legislators support the idea.

Republican Senator Kevin Engler says he believes the Senate should kill all of Missouri's "official" bills. 

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Description: "With everybody on record, I think it's stupid. We're having a difficult time as it is to get things done, and to continually subject this body to ridicule that all we do is official Missouri and things is dumb."

One of the "official" bills include adopting a state butterfly.

Republican Springfield Representative Charlie Denison is sponsoring a bill to make the Regal Fritillary (Fri-ti-lary) Missouri's own official butterfly.

He says this unique butterfly could help prevent the butterflies' extinction.

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Description: "It only thrives in a certain area of the state and it's unique to the state of Missouri because it has been basically run out in the rest of the states."
Supporters of the bill say creating a butterfly habitat in Missouri will increase the state's tourism industry by offering tourists something else to see besides current attractions.  

One current butterfly site is the Doctor Bill Roston Native Butterfly House in Springfield.

It recorded over seventeen thousand visitors last year at the annual butterfly festival.

Butterfly expert Lisa Bakerink says the Butterfly House wants to breed the Regal Fritillary (Fri-ti-lary) to conserve its habitat.

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Description: "I think it's just raises awareness of the butterfly and the needs for the prairies, because they're so dependent on that."

Adopting a state butterfly is not the only thing Missouri lawmakers want to do.

Fourth grader Mason Murphy from Pershing Elementary talked about her inspiration from World War I General John J. Pershing, who is a Missouri-born resident and also the inventor of jumping jacks.

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Description: "He was an early civil rights leader. He taught children that were African-American and he broke the law, just because he wanted them to have equal rights."

The jumping jack is more meaningful than its first glance.

Democratic St. Joseph Representative Pat Conway sponsors a bill to the House Tourism Committee to make the jumping jack Missouri's own state exercise.

Conway says fourth graders coming down to the capitol is also an educational experience.

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Description: "It's actually turned into more of a civics lesson. And they really work hard at learning the intricacies of the legislative process but also giving them instructions on how their government works."

The committee will vote on both bills within a few weeks.

Reporting from the capitol, I'm Crystall Cho.