Well, this is concerning. From the Illinois State Journal-Register, Feb. 5:
Moderation in all things is an admonition one state senator believes also should be applied to state symbols. Senate Bill 690, sponsored by freshman Sen. Tom Rooney, R-Rolling Meadows, proposes that Illinois get rid of symbols such as the state bird (cardinal), state flower (violet) and state animal (white-tailed deer), among many others. Rooney says too many state symbols has caused the value of the “important” ones to suffer. He said his legislation would leave only the state flag, state seal, state motto and state song.
“I think that by overuse, the value of a state designation drops every time we add a new one,” Rooney said. “I thought maybe, except a flag, a seal and a slogan and a state song, pretty much anything beyond that is something that’s overused. Therefore, we need to push a little value back into these things.”
The text of Senate Bill 690 seems innocuous, stating simply that “The State Designations Act is amended by repealing Sections 10, 15, 20, 25, 40, 45, 50, 55, 56, 57, 60, 63, 65, 70, 75, 80, 85, 90, 95, and 100.” But the synopsis reveals just how devastating this would be:
Repeals the following State designations: State bird; State insect; official language; State mineral; State tree and flower; State animal; State fish; State prairie grass; State vegetable; State fruit; State fossil; State artifact; State folk dance; State theatre; State soil; State snackfood; State amphibian; State reptile; State tartan; and State pie.
Devastating not so much to
Illinoisians Illinoisans Illinoisites the people of Illinois, most of whom probably don’t even know they have an official state snack food, much less that their legislature apparently believes “snack food” is one word. No, devastating, at least if it catches on, to my Official State Crap series, which at this point has only reached Florida.
Georgia was next, but I may have to take Illinois out of order now.
In an effort to forestall this disaster, I sent the following email to Sen. Rooney’s office last week.
I read with some concern that you have proposed abolishing almost all Illinois state symbols, especially the most ridiculous ones. Especially if this were to catch on, it would derail my long-term project of making fun of the official state crap of all 50 states, which I have been doing in alphabetical order by state.
As you can see, I have not reached Illinois yet, and may not have time to do so during this legislative session. For this very important reason, I hope you will consider withdrawing the bill.
Alternatively, another way to make your point might be to introduce a bill or series of bills calling for the most ridiculous official state crap you can think of. Whether any of them passed or not, you’d have gotten your point across.
How about an official state shape? Not the shape of the state, just some shape you like. The circle would be a good one. (I would keep it two-dimensional, just to be safe.) Or temperature—an official state temperature of something nice like 68 or 72 degrees would be good, especially in winter. Then if anybody complains about how cold it gets, you could say, “well, at least the official state temperature is 72 degrees!” Then they would laugh and probably vote for you.
If you want something more specific to Illinois, you could name an official state Adlai Stevenson (probably I or III, though, not II, the big loser). No other state has an official Adlai Stevenson, I can tell you that.
Feel free to use any of these ideas if you go that route.
I haven’t heard back yet, probably because they’ve formed a commission to look into these important ideas.
Please feel free to contact Sen. Rooney here if you, too, are concerned about this development.