When, in the course of human events, Louisiana lawmakers want to distract voters from the real problems facing the state, they file silly bills that waste taxpayers’ time and money.
We hold this truth to be self-evident — that not all bills are created equal and that the worst ones seem like they were brainstormed on the back of a napkin at the Capitol cafeteria.
Such a lemon is House Bill 1035, by state Rep. Valarie Hodges, a Denham Springs Republican, which would require public school students to perform a daily recitation of a portion of the Declaration of Independence. It’s further proof that many lawmakers seemed endowed with certain inalienable traits, among them loopiness, lunacy and the pursuit of haplessness.
Do we love the Declaration of Independence? You bet. Do we believe students should be required to study it in school? Absolutely. But mandating daily recitation of a particular passage from the Declaration — in Hodges’ bill, it’s the stirring one about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — seems arbitrary and intrusive. It’s yet another case of lawmakers being busybodies with school curriculums, inserting themselves into matters best left where they naturally belong: in the hands of local school boards, in concert with the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. The bottom of this slippery slope is a school day planned from start to finish by legislative fiat, crafted by lawmakers who presumably have more pressing responsibilities, such as the solvency of a state government now submerged in red ink. If the goal of Hodges’ bill is to honor the legacy of the Founding Fathers, there’s a better way to mark them in memory. It’s to do as they did at their best: face the crises of the time head-on, with courage, resolve and a willingness to compromise. Patriotism is about more than talking like the Founders. It’s really about acting like them, which is something we rarely see at the Capitol.