In addition to the usual nutcases roaming the Capitol, we now have kids making their case for nuts. Nut pie, actually. Pecan pie, specifically.
And, after a semi-related detour, I’ll tell you about some Georgetown first graders’ impressive effort to get pecan pie designated as our official state pie. The Senate has voted aye for that pie by sending SCR 12, sponsored by Sen. Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown, to the House.
SCR 12 was advanced March 11 by the Senate Administration Committee as it sent measures to the full Senate for the March 13 list of “local and uncontested bills” rapid-gaveled to approval with a handful (or fewer) senators in the chamber. No scandal here, just routine procedure, and it’s the Administration Committee’s job to make sure nothing too substantial or contentious makes it to that list.
The proposed list screened by the committee also included SB 370 by Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville, who wants to allow some current and ex- legislators to perform weddings. I listened to the audio recording of the meeting, which reminded me that — because of microphones that pick up senators’ comments you might not hear at the meeting — this can be more entertaining than the live version.
Chairman Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, told colleagues any measure that caused “any heartburn” for any committee member would be yanked from the list and re-routed from the local and uncontested path. Just about then, the recording captured some concerns from Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, as Lucio’s wedding bill caught his eye.
“Where in the world did that come from?” Whitmire said to somebody or nobody, adding moments later, “Why in the world would we pass that?”
And he offered this judgment about legislators as wedding officiants: “Boy, that would be a great sendoff in a marriage, wouldn’t it? … That’s the kind of stuff that gets us great press, isn’t it?”
Moments later, Whitmire told Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, “We’ll hear about this the rest of our lives.”
At that point, a senator I couldn’t identify on the recording told Whitmire, “I did the (wedding) service for my chief of staff. You can do it without this” bill.
“You married somebody?” an incredulous Whitmire asked shortly before he got SB 370 knocked from the local and uncontested list.
Minutes after that, another bill caught his eye.
“What the hell is a social study evaluator?” he asked, reading a phrase from a child custody measure and prompting this query from Zaffirini to Whitmire about his mood that particular day: “What did you eat for breakfast?”
FYI, Lucio’s bill would allow current or former legislators with 20 years or more of service to perform up to 12 weddings in 12 months. At a Feb. 26 hearing of the Senate Jurisprudence Committee (which designated SB 370 for the local and uncontested list), Lucio said his bill stemmed from a personal situation.
“I had a very special, special niece who lost her daddy about 10 years ago, who is very close to me and she asked me to perform a civil wedding and I couldn’t,” he said, adding he’d been asked to perform other weddings.
Lucio said he included the 12-wedding-in-12-months limit so justices of the peace, some of whom pull in some big cash by doing weddings, “won’t feel like they are being shortchanged in any way.” Lucio said he hopes legislators who do weddings would eschew fees in favor of charitable donations by the happy couple. That’s what he said he’d do.
Lucio, told that some legislators already do weddings, said they probably do so by getting online ordination from the Universal Life Church (whose website boasts “Over 20 million ministers ordained online — 100 percent free, legal and valid in all 50 states.”)
Back to pecan pie. SCR 12 escaped the wrath of Whitmire, who was very kind to the kids, won Senate approval and now is pending in the House, where I’m hoping the first-graders will reprise the creative and successful presentation they made at the Senate Administration Committee hearing. Teacher Mary Mikeska of Georgetown’s Ford Elementary School had her little lobbyists well-prepped and ready for the Senate committee hearing. Students Carl Soeffker, Ava Sieckmann, Ashlyn Clawson and Jude Webster made their case for (and brought) some pie as their classmates looked on.
“I believe one bite will be worth 1,000 words,” said Ava, an early favorite for this year’s cutest voice at a committee hearing. (Memo to grown-up lobbyists: Hire this kid now.)
Carl’s rhyming testimony included this line: “E is for eat, the best thing to do with pie. We’ve brought some with us today for you to try.”
It’s nice to see these kids getting some important, hands-on lessons about civics and life, two endeavors in which it never hurts to bring pie. Perhaps Whitmire should try some for breakfast.