CONCORD, N.H. (CBS) – A group of New Hampshire students got an unexpected lesson in politics as their bill proposal was promptly shot down by members of the House of Representatives.
New Hampshire lawmakers voted down a bill proposed by a group of fourth graders from Lincoln Akerman School in Hampton Falls that would have made the red-tailed hawk the state raptor.
During the beginning of a session last week in Concord, students were in attendance when the bill came up for a vote.
“I realize this may put me in hot water with fourth grader teachers and students in our state,” said Concord Rep. Christy Bartlett. “I understand and encourage engaging all residents in the governmental process, but would ask that consideration be given to more pressing matters on which we must debate both in our committees and in the full house during our budget year.”
Rochester Rep. Warren Groen also opposed the bill, and in his comments about the red-tailed hawk jabbed the Planned Parenthood organization.
“(The red-tailed hawk) mostly likes field mice and small rodents. It grasps them with its talons and then uses its razor sharp beak to rip its victims to shreds and then basically tear it apart, limb from limb. And I guess the shame about making this the state bird is it would make a much better mascot for Planned Parenthood,” Groen said.
Rep. John Burt, who represents Goffstown, also said he believed lawmakers should reject the bill, instead spending time on more pressing matters.
“Now we do have a $10 billion budget and that’s why I’m up here against this bill,” said Burt. “We should be working on that instead of worrying about what our next bird’s going to be. Because bottom line – if we keep bringing more of these bills and bills and bills that really I feel we shouldn’t have in front of us, we’ll be picking a state hot dog next.”
Not all speakers at the State House session were against the bill.
Peter Bixby, a Dover state representative, said that while some lawmakers object categorically to bills proposed by students because they believe they are a waste of time, he believes the process serves as a key tool for the state’s youth.
“Being involved in the process of creating a bill, however, is powerfully educational,” said Bixby. “And our constitution explicitly states that education is the foundation of a civil society. I would argue that fostering education in this way is in fact a very worthy use of our time.”
Despite the support of Bixby and others, the students’ bill was shot down by a margin of 160-133.