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Silly Bills

How your state legislators spend their time

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A handful of state House of Representatives members sparked a furor this year when they backed a bill allowing in-state college tuition for illegal immigrants. Talk radio lines were burning with indignation, and supportive legislators' voice mailboxes filled up faster than an open bar at a Modern Drunkard magazine convention.

But that well-intentioned measure was only one of many bills capable of generating controversy if only more people had known about them. Most people who don't have the General Assembly's Web site bookmarked don't hear about bills considered too dumb or too farfetched to attract serious Capitol press corps ink.

Why do politicians file bills that don't have a chance in hell of passing? You could be cynical and say they're playing to their base or grinding a personal ax. But why not just laugh at a few of 'em instead? Or if you can't laugh, at least don't cry. Try to muster a detached sneer.

¨ They call it a workday for a reason, right? Senators Andrew Brock of Mocksville and Austin Allran of Hickory thought they had a great way to increase state employee efficiency: Bar state agencies from having or buying computers with games on them. Next year, maybe they'll file a similarly unsuccessful bill requiring workers to use the correct cover sheet with their TPS reports. If you don't, you have to sit in the cubicle next to Milton.

¨ Innocent until proven WWF worthy. Rep. John Blust of Greensboro tried a bill that would bar schools and principals from disciplining teachers accused of hitting students until the county school board finds excessive force was used. Good — that would give students and their parents a little free time to retain lawyers.

¨ With a camo necktie, you wouldn't even have to change after the service. A bipartisan group of representatives wanted the state Wildlife Resources Commission to study whether North Carolina should back away slowly from a century-plus-old edict barring Sunday hunting. Among the issues to be studied? Avoiding conflict with religious services.

¨ Want to explain that to a Bank of America teller? Rep. Mark Hilton and 17 other politicians think parents who agree that their teen daughter may get an abortion should get notarized proof. Hmm. Would that work like when you're notarizing a used-car purchase at the bank?

¨ Yes, North Carolinians can be the biggest dorks on the dancefloor. South Carolina may already claim shagging, but NC Sen. Walter Dalton of Rutherfordton wants South Carolinians to know that shagging should be our official state popular dance. (By the way, he thinks clogging should be our official state folk dance.)

And if this doesn't convince you that all state problems must have been solved already: Last month, lawmakers officially agreed that the Venus flytrap is the state carnivorous plant.

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