An Idaho House dominated by farmers and ranchers wanted no part of a project by Boise schoolchildren to make the western rattlesnake the state reptile.
Rattlesnakes are to be feared, not revered, members declared Monday as they voted 57-13 to kill an idea advanced by a fourth-grade class at Boise’s Summerwind Elementary.
More than a dozen lawmakers took part in a debate that wasn’t altogether serious.
But some farmer-and rancher-lawmakers told their colleagues the danger from rattlesnakes is real.
“Those of us who live around the rattlesnake have a constant threat to their lives and their children’s lives,” said Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone.
Other legislators said the state’s image would suffer if the legislation were enacted.
“I just feel like this bill is going to come back and bite us, so I’m going to vote no,” said Rep. Jeff Alltus, R-Hayden.
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Max Black, R-Boise, who represents the district where the school is located.
Black said the legislation was important to the school children, who came to legislative hearings and testified about the value of reptiles, rattlesnakes in particular.
“They are proposing a greater understanding of reptiles and the part they play in our environment,” he said.
But Rep. Twila Hornbeck, R-Grangeville, said her husband threatened to divorce her if she voted for the bill.
Sponsors said Idaho declared the mountain bluebird the official state bird 66 years ago.
Since then, just six species have been honored, including the monarch butterfly a few sessions ago.
Next might be the famous Idaho potato.
The House State Affairs Committee on Monday recommended approval for a bill declaring the state’s top commodity as the official state vegetable.
It should come up for a final vote by the end of the week and is considered more likely to win approval than the snake bill.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo
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