The Legislature just isn't as silly as it used to be.
Not so long ago, legislators soothed the tensions associated with the serious task of making laws by coming up with not-so-serious legislation that poked fun at local personalities or accomplished similarly silly purposes.This year, only one bill truly qualified as frivolous. Rep. Jed Wasden, R-Salt Lake, tried unsuccessfully to get lawmakers to join him in urging ice-cream cone penalties for incorrect weather forecasts.
"Mills Crenshaw has taken a lot of the fun out of it," one longtime legislative observer noted, referring to the radio talk-show host who stirred up protests against the Legislature's 1987 tax increase.
Those protests led to the tax rollback and limitation initiatives, which, although defeated, garnered enough votes to convince lawmakers that their constituents preferred no-nonsense efficiency to foolish fun.
Wasden bucked the trend and had a resolution drafted urging that each Utah weather broadcaster be required to provide one ice-cream cone to each member of the House for every inch of snow beyond what was forecast.
"I was just trying to ease the burden," Wasden said. The bill, which was drafted in a matter of minutes by legislative staff, was never formally introduced so only a few copies were printed.
Some bills that were intended to be serious provided a few snickers during the session.
Just the names of the groups formed by two bills were guaranteed to generate laughs every time they appeared on a committee agenda: The Noxious Weed Committee and the Solid Waste Task Force.
One lawmaker found out his effort to encourage state agencies to use recycled paper products wasn't worth the paper it was printed on when the House rejected his resolution.
There was a bill defining beekeeping as a potential agricultural nuisance under the law. Another bill detailed how to get compensation for damage done by bears or mountain lions.