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Lawmakers vote for state cat

February 15, 2001

Lawmakers vote for state cat



By LAURA ERNDE / Staff Writer


ANNAPOLIS - Even dog lovers agree - the calico should be Maryland's official state cat.

Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, and Del. Louise V. Snodgrass, R-Frederick/Washington, said personally they prefer dogs. But both local lawmakers voted Thursday to name the calico the official state cat.

Their committee, Commerce and Government Matters, agreed Wednesday to send the bill to the full House of Delegates for a vote.

Lawmakers couldn't bear to disappoint the fifth-graders from Westernport Elementary School near Cumberland, Md., who came up with the idea and testified on its behalf.

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"Maybe it is silly, but sometimes we have to do silly things down here so people appreciate the good things we do down here," said committee Chairman Del. John F. Wood Jr., D-Calvert/St. Mary's.

The vote was 16 in favor, three against and three passing.

"I just thought the students made a very compelling argument. They were well prepared. The bill offered them an excellent lesson in democracy," Shank said.

The students testified that the calico's colors are similar to those in the state flag. Two other states have official cats: Maine the Maine coon and Massachusetts the tabby.

Del. B. Daniel Riley, D-Harford, said he hated to be the "bad guy" by voting against the bill but felt compelled because the calico is not a breed of cat and is not indigenous to Maryland.

"When we talk about state symbols, I think we ought to be serious," he said.

It didn't hurt the bill that the student backers live in Western Maryland, home of House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., D-Allegany/Garrett.

The students are already strategizing about out how to get the bill passed in the Senate, Wood said.

Westernport's sister school is in the district of Senate Speaker Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Prince George's/Calvert.

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