Saddle up: Kansas lawmakers waste time legislating cowboy holiday


IN THE SPIRIT: Rep. J.R. Claeys, R-Salina, shared his festive footwear in light of the House passage of a bill to establish the National Day of the Cowboy in Kansas.

By Travis Perry │ Kansas Watchdog

OSAWATOMIE, Kan. — With an appropriate amount of sarcasm, state Rep. Kyle Hoffman, R-Coldwater, on Tuesday introduced one of the first bills up for action.

“We have for us today, at the very first, possibly one of the most important bills we’ll pass this session,” Hoffman quipped to a few chuckles in the audience.

That bill was none other than HB 2402, to establish in Kansas the National Day of the Cowboy.

The legislation itself isn’t anything terribly impressive. Clocking in at under 150 words, the bill directs the governor to declare the last Saturday in July for the new “holiday.” A cowboy flag – whatever that is – will fly at the Capitol, and state residents are encouraged to “observe the day with appropriate ceremonies.”

We’ll leave that up to your imagination.

Ultimately, the discussion in the House lasted a whole two minutes before the bill’s passage on a voice vote, only to be met with a smattering of vocal opposition. Rep. Stephanie Clayton, R-Overland Park, panned the bill as do-nothing legislation that sends a message, similar to nullification laws that have passed through the Capitol.

@muckraker62 Meh, it’s like a nullification bill. Doesn’t do anything but send a message.

— Stephanie Clayton (@SSCJoCoKs) March 25, 2014

@muckraker62 I imagine this is a Tourism issue. Tourism generates revenue for state and private business. I see the logic in it.
— Stephanie Clayton (@SSCJoCoKs) March 25, 2014

Love ‘em or hate them, such nullification bills at least have addressed issues of substance. Recent notable examples include efforts to safeguard Kansans Second Amendment rights and to protect rural communities against perceived threats from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

It’s difficult to see the real value Kansans will get from any amount of time spent on this kind of legislation by state lawmakers. Even if it’s just a matter of minutes, how long is too long?

Just over an hour later, Rep. Blaine Finch, R-Ottawa, hit the nail on the head while discussing a separate piece of legislation.

“One of the most precious resources we have in this body is time,” Finch said.

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