A fourth-grade class in New Hampshire went to the State Capitol in Concord to learn about the process of state government by proposing a bill. Normally I'd say this was a great idea to see how laws are made, and how ordinary Americans can participate in the process. But New Hampshire's House is overwhelmingly controlled by the GOP (something close to a 60-40% margin), and what these kids learned is a hard lesson on how politics at the state level work in the age of the Tea Party Maniac.
In the spirit of learning by doing, students drafted a bill to learn the process of how a bill becomes law. They proposed House Bill 373, an act establishing the Red Tail Hawk as the New Hampshire State Raptor. Even though it passed through the Environment and Agriculture committee with a majority vote, some representatives were far from receptive.
Rep. Warren Groen, a Republican from Rochester said, "It grasps them with its talons then uses its razor sharp beak to basically tear it apart limb by limb, and I guess the shame about making this a state bird is it would serve as a much better mascot for Planned Parenthood."
NH1 spoke with Groen over the phone on Thursday afternoon. Click here to listen to the interview with Groen.
That comment, considered offensive by many, was made while the fourth graders sat, watched and listened. The tough lesson didn't end there.
Rep. John Burt, a Republican from Goffstown said, "Bottom line, if we keep bringing more of these bills, and bills, and bills forward that really I think we shouldn't have in front of us, we'll be picking a state hot dog next."
In a 133-to-160 vote lawmakers killed the bill and perhaps the civic enthusiasm of some 9-and-10-year-olds.
You think? By the way, New Hampshire's House has 400 members, it's one of the largest state Houses in the country by number of members. Less than 75% of them even bothered to vote on the bill. The bill died screaming, the kids found out they were going to be used as pawns to rail against abortion, and the best part was Rep. Burt telling these kids that they basically wasted the House's time with a stupid piece of legislation that had no chance.
What, did you think any story involving a GOP legislature in 2015 would have a happy ending? You clearly haven't been paying attention.