The New Hampshire state legislature is, as those of us who grew up in the state were repeatedly informed in school, the fourth-largest legislative body in the English-speaking world, surpassed only by Congress, the Indian Parliament, and the British Parliament. The State House is particularly enormous, with 400 representatives — one for every 3,317 residents. Each is paid $100 a year, plus mileage, for a job that, while not full-time, is still a substantial time-suck.
The upshot is that it's much, much easier to get elected to the House there than in any other state — and much, much less appealing — so you can imagine the caliber of politician New Hampshire is left with. In that context, it's not so surprising the State House decided to go out of its way to shatter the dreams of a group of fourth-graders from Hampton Falls:
NH1.com's Shari Small explains that the students had proposed House Bill 373, which would name the red-tailed hawk as the official "state raptor" of New Hampshire. The bill cleared the Environment and Agriculture committee, leading to a floor debate in which Rep. Warren Groen (R-Rochester) decided to make an extended joke about the red-tailed hawk and Planned Parenthood that also, in all likelihood, taught the children what abortion is:
"[The Red Tail Hawk] grasps [its prey] with its talons then uses its razor sharp beak to basically tear it apart limb by limb, and I guess the shame about making this a state bird is it would serve as a much better mascot for Planned Parenthood."
Rep. John Burt (R-Goffstown) took a softer tack, instead informing the children that their concerns were frivolous and unworthy of his and the legislature's time: "Bottom line, if we keep bringing more of these bills, and bills, and bills forward that really I think we shouldn't have in front of us, we'll be picking a state hot dog next."
The bill, along with the children's remaining faith in representative democracy, was killed. The vote was 133 to 160, because the other thing about having a 400-person legislative body is that sometimes hundreds of representatives just don't show up.
For the record, this is what a red-tailed hawk looks like. Behold its majesty:
Live free or die.