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A purr-fect pet project

January 23, 2001

A purr-fect pet project



I'm on the bandwagon.

No, not the Baltimore Ravens' bandwagon, but the bandwagon of five Western Maryland fifth-grade girls whose mission this legislative session is to have the calico named as Maryland's state cat.

Maryland needs a state cat to chase all the rats out of Annapolis, and by that I am specifically referring to the lobbyists. A calico cat would be fine, especially a 500-pound one.

The girls, from Westernport Elementary in Western Maryland, figure that Maryland has a state dog (the Chesapeake Bay retriever) a state bird (the Baltimore oriole) and a state crustacean (William Donald Schaefer), so why not a state cat?

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They picked calico because they believe its mottled colors somewhat mirror those on the Maryland state flag. Mark Twain once said the works of some French Impressionist resembled "a calico cat having a fit in a plate of tomatoes," so I guess it's the same idea.

Del. Kevin Kelly, D-Allegany/Garrett, sponsored the bill, which will provide an excellent way for kids to learn about the legislative process. Over the Internet, students will be able to see the bill as it is assigned to a committee, receives a hearing before the House of Delegates, passes three House readings, is assigned to the Senate where the hearing and voting processes are repeated and then goes on to the desk of Gov. Parris Glendening, who vetoes the bill because cats, as a species, hardly conform to the concept of "Smart Growth."

If any other classes out there wish to keep track of the cat bill, log on to: mec.state.md.us

Click on the "General Assembly" link, then click on "Bill information and status" and type in "hb157." That will tell you what's up with the cat bill.

Warning, kids: DO NOT LOOK AT THIS SITE ANY FURTHER!

This is a legislative Web site and consequently may not be suitable for young eyes not accustomed to seeing patently convoluted and nonsensical stuff - like actual House Bill 183 "Abrogating the doctrine of parent-child immunity as it applies to motor vehicle torts up to the limits of motor vehicle liability or uninsured motorist coverage; prohibiting a parent or child who is a tort-feasor in a wrongful death action from obtaining any benefit under the Act in the wrongful death action; and providing for the application of the Act."

Of course, this possibly could be relevant to the Westernport students' bill. Wasn't Tort Feaser one of the characters in the hit Broadway musical "Cats?" Or is it some part of your shoulder: "I wouldn't take Bob Tewksbury in the rotisserie baseball draft, Phil. I understand he had tort-feaser cuff surgery in the off-season and may not be back to 100 percent until July."

House Bill 188 is good: "Prohibiting a bank, mortgage lender, savings and loan association, or other lender that enters into a contract with a certified real estate appraiser that requires the certified real estate appraiser to make an appraisal of real property from making the payment of the certified real estate appraiser dependent on a factual finding of the appraisal; etc."

An appraisal has to get up pretty early in the morning to fool the Maryland General Assembly, it would seem. Whether the appraisal is done by an appraiser or otherwise.

So you see, kids, while simple cat legislation may be a good learning experience, any exploration beyond the calico bill may be hazardous to your general well-being. But rest assured, you are providing a service to all Marylanders. Because time that the legislature spends considering cat legislation is time it won't be spending on some other bill that might make our lives appreciably worse.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist

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