Once Around the Statehouse Lightly

An Army of One | 08-15-2019

Rhode Island has a number of distinctions. It is the smallest state, but also has the longest official name: Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. It is the home of the Tennis Hall of Fame, the birthplace of author Cormac McCarthy, and the site of...

Now That’s Embarrassing | 08-15-2019

In theory, facial recognition programs are supposed to be another close-to-infallible tool that helps police ferret out the bad guys. In reality...not so much. As a pair of California lawmakers pointed out last week, said programs can actually be off...

Love Me, Love My Dog | 08-15-2019

Okay, if you’re the governor you figure that in these polarized times half the voters don’t love you no matter what you do. But even the hardest hearts have to acknowledge the awesomeness of dogs. Case in point this week comes from Michigan...

The Wrong Bill | 08-09-2019

Legendary singer and songwriter Dolly Parton has always had a profound impact on the people around her. And it didn’t take long at last week’s opening event for the National Conference of State Legislatures Annual Summit in Nashville to see...

The Right Dolly | 08-09-2019

As I mentioned already, nobody alive owns a stage more or better than Ms. Dolly Rebecca Parton of Sevier County, Tennessee. Among the gems from her talk with Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee: attributing her large family growing up to the folks in her region just...

Blue is the New Orange | 08-09-2019

California’s Orange County has been the ultimate GOP stronghold, so much so it long ago earned the moniker “the Orange Curtain.” But California’s Republicans are in a freefall, with their statewide popularity falling somewhere...

No Man, No Way | 08-02-2019

If you happen to be perusing the many fine things to see and do in Berkeley, California and come upon a street access point to the city’s sewer system...please don’t call it a manhole cover. As Curbed San Francisco reports, the City Council...

Bueller? Bueller? | 08-02-2019

Things are certainly different for kids these days. As NBC News reports , Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill last month that allows students to take “mental health days” the same way they would for a case of the flu. Now hold your nasty...

Blue No More | 08-02-2019

By the time you are reading this, North Dakota’s blue laws, the most restrictive in the nation, will be no more. After years of slow but steady erosion, the Flickertail State Legislature this year passed a bill to eradicate them once and for all...

Governor Pinocchio | 08-02-2019

It used to be that getting caught in a lie was a bad thing. But with the patron saint of fibbery in the White House these days, lying is in vogue even when your lie can be easily disproved. Case in point comes from Arizona, where Gov. Doug Ducey last...

THE OLD BOYS CLUB | 07-19-2019

Famed evangelist Billy Graham might be dead, but his grip on Magnolia State politics is apparently still pretty strong. As Mississippi Today reports , a second gubernatorial candidate – former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. –...

The Cheapest Lobbyists in Town | 07-19-2019

A bill working its way through the California Capitol that would make most gig workers into employees has got the major rideshare companies all a tither. So much they’ve been pushing their drivers to publicly oppose the bill. That effort took an...

STRESSED OUT, STRESS FREE | 07-19-2019

If you live in Detroit, Cleveland or Newark, odds are good the stress level in your world is pretty high. Conversely, if you reside in Fremont, California or Bismarck, North Dakota, life is likely a much smoother ride. Those conclusions are according...

All Hail Lady Soul | 07-12-2019

Drivers in Detroit have been singing along to Aretha Franklin tunes since the 1960s, but now they can honor the late, great Queen of Soul without massacring one of her classic songs in the process. As the Detroit Metro Times reports , Michigan Gov. Gretchen...

Nice Try, Bucko | 07-12-2019

You have to admire the chutzpa of Wisconsin Sen. Chris Kapenga. As the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports , in order to get his vote on the recent state budget bill, his GOP colleagues had to insert an amendment to allow carmaker Tesla to sell their vehicles...

USA, USA, USA! | 07-12-2019

We ‘Mercans are nothing if not competitive. The latest example comes from Morgantown, Kentucky, where the Beech Tree News reports Mayor Billy Phelps gathered enough folks together to set the world record for the world’s biggest...wait for...

You’re Not Crazy, I’m Crazy! | 07-12-2019

If politics appears at times to be a race to see who can be the most absurd, that’s because it often is. Case in point this week comes from Mississippi, where GOP gubernatorial candidate Rep. Robert Foster refused to allow a reporter from Mississippi...

The New Gov. Moonbeam? | 07-08-2019

Back in the 70s’s, Chicago news icon Mike Royko famously dubbed then-California Gov. Jerry Brown “Governor Moonbeam” for the brash young governor’s appeal to young progressive voters, or what Royko called “the moonbeam vote...

United States of Acrimony | 07-08-2019

If feelings of being disrespected were currency, America wouldn’t need a single other consumer product to remain the richest country on the face of the earth. Case in point comes from the town of Needles, a tiny town in the Mojave Desert area of...

Just Don’t Do It! | 07-08-2019

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey was mad, mad, mad! Angry! Perturbed! Vexed! That commie pinko lefty wussbomb Nike had crumbled to PC pressure and cancelled plans to produce sneakers bearing the iconic Betsy Ross version of the American flag. But Nike bailed after...

Where the Buffalo Roam | 07-08-2019

With the legislative session in its usual summer lull, California Sen. Scott “Salmon Salad” Wilk and Asm. Tom “Turkey Burger” Lackey have taken on a new goal: losing weight. As Wilk announced on his Facebook page, he and Lackey...

Gone to the Dogs...and Birds and Ducks and Gators | 06-28-2019

Emotional support dogs are hardly a rare sight in many public spaces these days. But how would you feel about sharing an airline seat with an emotional support peacock ? Or perhaps someone’s emotional support alligator ? While some might consider...

Semantics 101 | 06-28-2019

When a company belonging to Tesla founder and general oddball Elon Musk released a recreational flamethrower for public sale last year – no, really – the entire 20,000-unit supply sold out in days. Gobsmacked California lawmakers instantly...

Now That Was a Bad Look | 06-28-2019

Get a mohawk, they said. Put a photo of your mohawk on a stock photography site, they said. You’ll look so cool, they said. Yeah, maybe not. Sacramento County officials recently undertook a public information campaign to clue people in on the dangers...

Maybe They’ll Find a Pinky Ring Next | 06-28-2019

The Wyoming statehouse in Cheyenne is undergoing a spiffy top-to-bottom makeover, and as is often the case with such undertakings, workers are digging up some cool stuff. As the Casper Star Tribune reports , the latest is six oil paintings that had been...

Let There Be Sunlight | 06-14-2019

After a nasty intra-party battle, California Republican Brian Dahle is now able to claim victory in the race against fellow Reep Kevin Kiley to fill a vacant Senate seat. But the sweet taste of victory after one of the most venomous races in recent memory...

We’re So Surprised, Said Nobody Ever | 06-14-2019

Get ready for a shocker – no state is more fun than California! According to a new Wallet Hub survey , based on 26 different metrics the Golden State tops the other 49 when it comes to having fun, be it indoors or out. Some of those include weather...

Standing Up for Stands | 06-14-2019

Let the lemonade flow! As the Texas Tribune reports , Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill last week that bars local governments from imposing harsh regulations on the kind of lemonade stands once imagined to be ubiquitous in this country. The law grew...

Does Daffy Know About This? | 06-14-2019

When Massachusetts state Sen. Joan Lovely needed a mascot for the diaper donation drive she and a few fellow lawmakers were putting on last week, she knew the perfect fit. As State House News Service reports, Lovely brought in Drake, one of her four pet...

Spicoli’s Revenge | 06-07-2019

School cafeterias are generally not in danger of earning a Michelin star. But this being the era of ubiquitous smartphones and app-based food delivery services, modern students are no longer slaves to the school lunch menu. Enterprising kids are now as...

I Told You So! | 06-07-2019

After much tussling back and forth, California regulators have decided once and for all that coffee does not pose a major risk of causing cancer. This is very good news to coffee giants like Starbucks, which contended that the benefits of drinking a cup...

If You Can’t Beat Them, Talk Them to Death | 06-07-2019

Filibustering and other such political gabfesting as a means of blocking legislation has been practiced by every party since Plato walked the earth. The latest incarnation comes from the Oregon Legislature, where outmanned Republicans have managed to...

A Grizzly of a Problem | 06-07-2019

Uber-patriotic national holidays are a golden opportunity for minor league baseball teams in deep red locales to fill the stadium. Such was the case in May when the Pacific Coast League’s Fresno Grizzlies marked the Memorial Day holiday with a video...

The Recess Grinch | 05-31-2019

Man, it just ain’t any fun being a kid these days. Case in point comes from Georgia, where Gov. Brian Kemp last month vetoed a bill that would have required most Peach State schools to schedule recess time for kids in grades K-5. But as the Atlanta...

Can’t Keep a Good Bear Down | 05-31-2019

It’s never a good idea to feed wildlife, if for no other reason they lose their fear of humans even while humans don’t lose their fear of them. Such is the case these days in New Hampshire, where Mink the black bear has returned from exile...

Just Kicking It with Arnold | 05-31-2019

Being in politics means learning to roll with the punches, but former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently had to take that lesson a step further. As the Washington Post reports , Schwarzenegger was signing autographs at his annual Arnold Classic...

Awful Is as Awful Does | 05-31-2019

And right now, there might not be anybody being more awful than California Assembly members Brian Dahle and Kevin Kiley, who are facing off in a nasty race to fill a vacant seat in the state Senate. The two men – both Republicans - have gone after...

There Will Be Blood! | 05-17-2019

Stand back, because the Bruce Lee wannabes are on the way! Yes, as NPR reports , Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has signed a bill that overturns a prohibition on nunchucks, the traditional martial arts weapon that loosely translates to “chain sticks.”...

Bird by Bird | 05-17-2019

Left to their own devices, humans are pretty good at wiping out native animal species. Such has definitely been the case for the so-called “prairie chicken” – known elsewhere as a grouse - of northwest Kansas. Long considered a nuisance...

Your State Sucks, No Yours Does! | 05-17-2019

The survey has been done and unless you live in Washington, your state just doesn’t measure up. That’s the word anyway from U .S. News and World Report , which recently released its assessment of the best and worst states to live in. Based...

Roadkill It and Grill It | 05-17-2019

You want to drop $700 on food at a Michelin-rated eatery where it took months to get a reservation? Go for it. The rest of us will just scoop up some venison off the road and have us a time. As CalMatters reports , a bill ( SB 395 ) is working its way...

Booze Gets the Axe | 05-10-2019

Or maybe more accurately, the axe doesn’t get the booze. As the Salt Lake Tribune reports , legislation recently enacted in the Beehive State bars an axe-throwing venue in the city of Ogden from obtaining a license to sell beer. Ditto for a karaoke...

Childish Behavior | 05-10-2019

Whatever the subject these days, whenever it comes to doing what’s best for our kids, we can generally count on the adults in the room to behave worse than the children. Case in point comes this week from Rhode Island, where the Providence Journal...

This is the Problem You’re Worried About? | 05-10-2019

Some days it feels like this old world is about to just burn itself down. Literally, given how fast climate change is progressing. But there’s no shortage of other problems, from an epidemic of school shootings to an equally insane epidemic of measles...

Speaking of Wasting Time | 05-10-2019

The Arizona House isn’t the only legislative body with its collective head up...in the clouds. As Cleveland.com reports , a pair of lawmakers in the Ohio House have introduced legislation to adopt an official Buckeye State cookie. The measure has...

Wait, What Kind of Otter? | 05-03-2019

If you’re going to have a state amphibian, it might as well be one with as ridiculous a nickname as possible. I’m presuming that was what Pennsylvania lawmakers were thinking recently when they voted to name the Eastern hellbender salamander...

No Fury Like a Fellow Reep Scorned | 05-03-2019

Geez, don’t make California Assemblymember Melissa Melendez angry. Or at least make sure the sharp objects are out of her reach. As CalMatters reports , fellow Republican Chad Mayes once gave Melendez a basketball signed by members of her favorite...

Maybe We Should Call it the ‘Soylent Green’ State | 05-03-2019

Don’t like the high cost of burials? Against cremation? Not down with mummification? Well, Washington state lawmakers may have just given you another good option. Yes, as the Washington Post reports , Evergreen State pols have endorsed a measure...

A New Sheriff in Town | 05-03-2019

With apologies to Bob Dylan and James Brown, the times they are a changin’ and it’s no longer just a man’s world. While a lot of us already know this to be true, the word is just getting to a lot of states, or at least to the language...

American Ninja Governor | 04-19-2019

As Oklahoma Gov. Brad Stitt watched the “American Ninja Warrior” crew setting up the show’s rigorous obstacle course on the south side of the Capitol grounds in Oklahoma City last week, he couldn’t help thinking, “I could...