Senate passes state crayfish bill
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Senate passes state crayfish bill

Date: April 26, 2007
By: Cliff Ainsworth
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Who is so spineless they deserve to be named the Missouri state invertebrate? 

For Sen. John Loudon, R-St. Louis County, it's the Missouri Medical Association.  The physicians organization is a vocal opponent to a bill sponsored by Loudon that would make it easier for midwives to practice in the state. 

In jest, Loudon sent forth an amendment to a bill that would designate the crayfish as the official state invertebrate.  Although quickly withdrawn by the senator after it was read in the chamber, the amendment would have named the Missouri Medical Association the state invertebrate "due to their unwillingness to compete with a bunch of midwives."

Such jocular maneuvers took place in the Senate Thursday as lawmakers took up the crayfish bill, which Loudon said was generated, like many similar bills, by fourth-graders who launch letter-writing campaigns to get various plants and animals some legislative notoriety.

Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Jackson County, while watching the proceedings from a side bench, noted, "These are your tax dollars at work."

Loudon said the fun was not a totally bad thing.

"I think people would be worse off if we spent every waking minute passing new laws," Loudon said.  "The process is designed to filter out, that we don't pass too many laws."

However, Loudon conceded that when it comes to naming official state animals and plants, "People who say there's no end to it have a point.  How many pages of the state manual are going to be filled because fourth-graders had a cute idea?"

Not as many that would be filled because state Senators had a cute idea.

Sen. Jeff Smith, D-St. Louis City, brought forth an amendment that garnered an outburst of laughter from lawmakers.  Also quickly withdrawn after being read, it would have named Sen. Jack Goodman, R-Mt. Vernon, as the state's invertebrate.  Goodman was handling the crayfish bill in the Senate for its sponsor,
Rep. Dennis Wood, R-Kimberling City.

When the bill was finally put to a vote, many senators hurried back to their desks. 

After voicing his approval of the measure, Sen. Carl Vogel, R-Jefferson City, spun around and asked, "What'd I just vote for?"

And with that, a bill designating the crayfish as Missouri's official invertebrate was passed, 29-2.  It now heads to the House.