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Proposed State Symbols Fail to Appeal to Maryland Lawmakers

By Diana Mota Morgan
Capital News Service
Thursday, April 11, 2002

ANNAPOLIS - The cookie crumbled, the Patuxent River agate sank, walking took a hike and a new state song hit a sour note, as four out of four proposed state symbols died during the 2002 General Assembly session. 

The proposals never even made it out of committee before the Assembly adjourned Monday. 

The failure may be due to legislators' resistance to state designations, said Delegate William A. Bronrott, D-Montgomery, who sponsored the bill that would have made walking the state exercise. 

Of the four bills, Bronrott's did the best -- just one vote shy of going to the full House of Delegates. 

"Like any bill, it's very tough to get it passed the first year it's introduced," Bronrott said, who plans to pursue it next year. 

The third-graders from East Silver Spring Elementary who backed the measure were disappointed, Bronrott said, but they received a hands-on lesson in government and policymaking -- learning that legislation takes "patience and persistence." 

And Bronrott was named Delegate of the Year by the Maryland Public Health Association for his efforts. 

Another group of students also received a disappointing lesson in policy-making, said Delegate James G. Crouse, D-Cecil, co-sponsor of the failed apple-oatmeal cookie bill. 

The 20 fifth-graders from Cecil County's Tome School chose this cookie because apples and oatmeal are grown locally. 

The students' research supporting the bill was impressive, Crouse said. 

Although he co-sponsored the bill, Crouse said he is concerned the Legislature is being flooded with state symbol suggestions. 

A task force to designate categories for symbols is being considered, Crouse said. Each year, he said, the Legislature's time is consumed with state symbol bills. 

Next year will be no exception: In addition to Bronrott's walking bill, the state song debate is also likely to come up again. 

Song sponsor Sen. Jennie M. Forehand, D-Montgomery, tried to replace Maryland's Confederate call-to-arms state song with a less belligerent one. Next year, she said she might try to add a second state song. 

That way, she said, traditionalists can keep their "war song" and Marylanders might get a song they could be proud to sing. 

Another failed bill that keeps popping up would name the Patuxent River agate as the state gem. 

For the third consecutive year, the proposal received an unfavorable report. Perhaps four will be its lucky number. 

Only found in Maryland and made from dinosaur bone, the gem can be used to celebrate the state's geological history, said bill sponsor Delegate James W. Hubbard, D-Prince George's, in written testimony. 

So at least for this year, Maryland holds state symbols to the current 19.


Copyright 2001 and 2002 University of Maryland College of Journalism

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