Legislature had some problems, many gestures

By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

Sixty days is a long time to let a governmental body off its leash. Thank goodness the state Legislature has come to a close.

On Saturday, as the session drew to a close, the headlines proclaimed that New Mexico lawmakers had restored Pluto to planet status, whenever it passes overhead in New Mexico’s excellent night skies.

The 94-year-old widow of the New Mexico man who discovered Pluto back in 1930 lamented that the non-binding measure doesn’t really solve the problem, but it’s a nice gesture.

What a great epitaph for the 2007 Legislature. “They didn’t really solve the problem but they made lots of nice gestures.”

Anyone who doesn’t believe it fits should take a look at a few of the measures considered this session:

• Rep. Thomas Taylor of Farmington introduced a bill directing the state to look toward a fitting retirement for the fighting cock. The bill said since outlawing of cockfighting appeared imminent, which would quite literally take the bird out of the fire and into the frying pan, it called for the retirees to receive visits from New Mexico’s finest hens and television subscriptions to ESPN and Animal Planet but not the Food network. The bill was killed.

• A memorial changing Columbus Day to Indigenous Day was passed and signed. A really nice gesture to Native Americans but a real snub to Italian Americans. It’s also a little murky as to what day we celebrate Indigenous Day … is it on the old Columbus Day or a different day? Will motor vehicle division offices be open on that day?

• A House memorial asks that the state look into the problem of the grey wolf eating children and family pets. OK maybe some pets have been consumed by lobos recently, but I missed the headline where Little Red Riding Hood was tripping down the road to visit grandma in Silver City and became lupus lunch.

• We let our displeasure with the state of the nation be known with a Senate memorial against the Iraq War and a Senate Joint Resolution calling for President Bush’s impeachment over the same topic.

• No real good reasons were explained for its introduction in the bill, but a House memorial recognizing that ancient Macedonians were Hellenes and that the inhabitants of Macedonia today are Hellenic descendants was passed and signed.

• We’ve added a couple of new “official” things to the long list adopted over the years. Everyone has probably heard the bolo tie went through the Legislature on a fast track to become the state’s official tie. What you might not have heard about is our new official state answer. Apparently it was to be the word christmas, with lower-case letter c. Someone stuck an amendment in the language and it became red and green or christmas. For those of you who don’t know “Red or green?” is the official state question, referring to chili. The new answer joins other such infamous “officials” the Tarantula Hawk wasp as the state insect and the Sandia hairstreak as the state butterfly.

• Finally the measure I was pulling for that didn’t pass was for an official state cowboy song. It’s fiscal impact report told us it would cost less than $50 and join a list of other officially recognized songs about New Mexico but somehow it died in the House Consumer and Public Affairs committee. The refrain is catchy though.

“Green valleys in the deserts, apple trees on a hill
And there in the canyon stands an old water mill
A land of enchantment where wildflowers grow,
These are the treasures of New Mexico.”

Karl Terry is the managing editor of the Portales News-Tribune. He can be reached at 356-4481, ext. 33, or by e-mail