January 25, 2008 1:34 PM
Western painted turtle toddling toward state-reptile victory
The western painted turtle toddled to victory today in its first House floor vote toward becoming Colorado’s official state reptile.
The slow-moving reptile’s rising star was buoyed by school kids' rave endorsements, and became the butt of goofy floor jokes and the object of one lawmaker’s mirthless disapproval.
Rep. Cherylin Peniston, D-Westminster, sponsored HB 1017 after students in her Adams County school informed her of the legislative crisis – Colorado lacked an official scaly, cold-blooded critter.
With a giant photo of the famed turtle projected on the chamber wall, Peniston read colleagues the committee testimony of 4th-and-5th graders at Skyline Vista Elementary School who backed up their turtle lobbying with solid research.
As a creature who lives in Southwestern and Eastern Colorado, a student named Joel testified, “It’s a great animal to represent the people who live on the prairie.”
“It’s able to hibernate and survive cold Colorado winters, just like the early settlers who had to live through harsh winters on the plains,” the boy added.
Rep. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs jokingly objected that, for a state boasting “Rocky Mountain High” as an official song, Colorado’s “high altitude” lizards were getting stiffed.
“I think this needs much more statewide discussion,” Lambert lampooned.
The ba humbug vote was cast by Rep. Douglas Bruce, R-Colorado Springs.
“As the only person on the committee who had the courage to be labeled as ‘anti-turtle’ “ for voting against the turtle bill, Bruce said, he urged lawmakers to stop “cluttering up our law books with such embarrassing trivia.”
“We already have two state songs, state grass, state rock, state mineral, state fossil,” Bruce warned -- enough already.
House Minority Leader Mike May introduced a mock amendment stating: “The name of the state turtle shall be ‘Steve Durham,’ “ a veteran lobbyist and former state senator.
“Obviously, the state turtle does bear a striking resemblance to Steve Durham,” May quipped to outburst of laughter.
Stay tuned for Durham’s retort.