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Lawmakers Elected by Angry Voters Oblige With Bills of a Creative Bent : Politics: Nevadan would name a highway after UFOs. Minnesota measure would recess the Legislature during walleye season. Then there's the Indiana representative who wants to take his chair home.

April 09, 1995|ARLENE LEVINSON | ASSOCIATED PRESS

How about "Three strikes and you're dead" for repeat felons in Oklahoma? Or naming a lonely Nevada road "Extraterrestrial Alien Highway"? Or putting wolves in New York City's Central Park?

Scouring the country for this year's offbeat legislative proposals, Associated Press Statehouse reporters found plenty. Such as the one from a seven-term Indiana state representative who wants retiring lawmakers to take their $500 slate-blue leather and wood chairs with them when they leave office. Or the request by a Minnesota lawmaker to adjourn the legislature when he'd rather be fishing.

Perhaps jolted by last year's Revolt of the Angry Voter, many of this year's more unusual bills address Americans' gripes with a creative vengeance.

The Oklahoma bill may be the object of ridicule, but state Rep. Bill Graves is serious. His legislation proposes lethal injection for anyone convicted of three serious felonies, such as arson or armed robbery.

"People are fed up with violent crime and want something done about it," Graves said.

The same impetus produced an Arkansas bill, since defeated, to bring back public hangings.

Still viable is a bill to flush out rude Maine state employees with a toll-free complaint hot line and regular evaluation for "manners," and one in Oregon that would cut welfare to people who keep vicious dogs illegally.

A Texas measure would make candidates pass drug tests to get on the ballot.

Spanking proposals are the rage. A Mississippi bill would offer the paddle instead of prison. One California bill would lift a 1986 ban on corporal punishment in schools. New York and California may decide to paddle teen-age graffiti convicts; Tennessee might cane burglars.

Louisiana dentists who exploit teen-agers would risk a year in prison and a $500 fine under a bill to bar them from putting gold teeth, fillings or crowns in the mouths of babes under 18 without a parent's consent.

Baseball fans sick and tired of the baseball strike provoked many legislators to pitch bills banning ballpark funding, strike-breakers and even games.

If the Chicago White Sox use replacement players, some Illinois lawmakers want to withhold the estimated $24 million in taxes collected annually to pay for Comiskey Park.

Maryland's state-owned Camden Yards and New York's Yankee and Shea stadiums would shut out teams on which fewer than 75% of players were in the major leagues last year.

Legislation in Maryland, New York and Washington would throw the book at teams that advertise a "major league" game in which fewer than 75% of players played in the majors last season.

Some lawmakers did offer bills from the lighter side of the aisle.

Minnesota state Sen. Bob Lessard introduced a measure to ban lawmaking on the first weekend of the walleye fishing season. "All you have to do is look at the taillights leaving the Twin Cities area, and I want to be one of those taillights," Lessard said.

One of Wisconsin Rep. Tom Ourada's constituents hit a deer landing his airplane and was dismayed to learn he couldn't take the animal home and eat it. So Ourada drafted a bill allowing pilots to keep the carcass if they run into a deer on a runway.

Lawmakers also felt the perennial urge to name and claim things.

Hoping to attract tourists to his rural district, Nevada state Assemblyman Roy Neighbors wants to name a 100-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 50 known for UFO sightings--flying saucers and such--"Extraterrestrial Alien Highway."

Many hours are being spent in Missouri deciding whether to name the Missouri mule the state animal. At a hearing, Melvin Bradley, a retired University of Missouri professor and author of books about mules, testified: "We were always first in mule quality."

Still, it seems the meaner streak prevails this legislative season.

Upset that the federal government is reintroducing wolves to Yellowstone National Park and neighboring Idaho, the Montana House passed a resolution demanding that Congress order wolves installed in "every other ecosystem and region of the United States, including Central Park in New York City, the Presidio in San Francisco, and Washington, D.C." A Senate committee tabled the measure.

Even slowpokes on two-lane country roads had better beware.

A Louisiana bill would require trucks carrying oversize loads to pull over every 10 miles and let traffic pass. The bill doesn't say for how long.

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