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State rodent bill gnaws heels of legislators named 'Chuck'

March 05, 1998
By: Margaret Murphy
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - They're back, and this time they're demanding respect.

Angered that their attempt to make the woodchuck the state rodent was defeated last year, a group of Missouri lawmakers has threatened to bring the Legislature to its knees if their new bill doesn't pass.

Rep. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, is spokesman for the "Chuck Caucus," 11 House members whose names are Chuck or other derivatives of Charles. Graham said the caucus is a powerful one because at least one "Chuck" sits on each House committee.

"We'll feel slighted if this bill is dammed up," said Rep. Chuck Surface, R-Joplin.

More publicity-savvy now, the caucus has taken a new tack, to make the woodchuck the state marmot.

"It has a little more class than the rodent," said caucus chairman Rep. Chuck Wooten, R-Springfield.

Graham is optimistic about the bill's chances.

"The Redneck Caucus said they're with us," he said. "And we've been approached by two Carl's who want to join."