CONCORD — A proposal to review how the state names its symbols had to wait, as a Senate committee voted unanimously Thursday for a bill making the bobcat the state’s official wildcat.
Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, intended to propose the study committee amendment to House Bill 423, which would make the bobcat an official state symbol, but decided to wait after hearing the presentation by fourth-graders from The Well School in Peterborough.
Instead he said the students made such an impressive presentation about the bobcat he would attach his amendment to another bill and let HB 423 go on to the governor.
The bill already passed the House, unlike House Bill 373, which would have made the red-tailed hawk the state raptor. That bill was killed by the House and several lawmakers’ objections to it made national news.
Several House members called the bill a waste of time, and Rochester Republican Warren Groen said the hawk would be a more appropriate symbol for Planned Parenthood because it rips its prey “limb from limb.”
A YouTube clip of Groen’s speech went viral and national news organizations took up the story. House Speaker Shawn Jasper of Hudson asked Groen to apologize, but he did not, and Gov. Maggie Hassan delivered a House resolution and letter from Jasper to the fourth-grade class of the Lincoln Akerman School in Hampton Falls which proposed the red-tailed hawk bill.
The House incident helped prompt Bradley and Senate Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn, D-Dalton, to propose the legislative committee to study naming.
“There should be parameters so everyone understands the process, not just happenstance,” Bradley said, “We should develop criteria for when and how things get named.”
Developing parameters should prevent the problems that surfaced in the House, he noted.
Fourth grade classes are not the only ones proposing naming things, Bradley said noting there were bills to name the lobby of the Legislative Office Building and various roads after individuals.
“There is a time and place for everything,” said Woodburn after the Senate Rules, Enrolled Bills and internal Affairs Committee voted 5-0 to recommend the Senate pass the bill. “This is not the time to disrespect the children from Peterborough.”
Woodburn had intended to attach the red-tailed hawk bill to HB 423, but instead worked with Bradley on the legislative study committee for naming state symbols.
He said it is a good idea to develop guidelines.
“I’m keeping my options open (on the red-tailed hawk amendment),” Woodburn said. “At this point, birds of a feather flock together, but it could be different in the future.”
The Bradley-Woodburn amendment was attached to House Bill 407, which would study the classifications of military vehicles and equipment that may be purchased by state, county and local governments.
The Senate will vote on both bills Thursday when it meets at 10 a.m.