Politicians, whether at the state or federal level, seldom pass up a chance to grandstand. So, just like their counterparts in Washington, D.C., made political hay by badgering baseball, Texas lawmakers seem intent on wasting time and effort on meaningless diversions outside the scope of their office instead of concentrating on the serious issues facing their constituents.
One ludicrous example comes from Houston, where state Rep. Al Edwards seems fixated on high school cheerleaders and the manner in which they perform. So he proposed a law telling them not to get too suggestive in their sideline performances.
“It’s just too sexually oriented, you know, the way they’re shaking their behinds and going on, breaking it down,” Edwards said of the teens’ dance routines. So he proposed a law that would reduce state funding for a district that knowingly permits such a performance.
This bill contains enough flaws to make it unworkable. Who decides what’s too hot for the pom-pom squad? What might not raise an eyebrow in Houston could cause a heart attack in Lubbock. Districts in the Rio Grande Valley and our neighbors in the Texas Panhandle might have different ideas about when a routine goes too far.
In addition, the bill would not reduce district funding by a fixed amount, but instead have the state education commissioner determine how much to decrease a district’s funding. This, of course, could lead to arbitrariness and would prevent the commissioner from focusing on more important matters.
Besides, the private sector, in the form of the National Cheerleaders Association, has already addressed this problem. The organization penalizes cheerleading teams that incorporate sexually suggestive or vulgar moves into their competition routines.
If parents have a problem with the high school cheerleading squad, they already have recourse — their local school board. Parents can share their concerns with board members, who can pass that matter along to the superintendent, who can then talk to the school principal, who in turn will discuss the issue with the cheerleading coach. No need to pass a state law.
But Edwards isn’t the only legislator overreaching. Rep. Ryan Guillen of Rio Grande City filed a bill that would designate pan de campo as the official state bread of Texas. That’s right, state bread.
Guillen borrowed a page from the political playbook of Mission state Rep. Kino Flores, who distracted lawmakers two years ago with legislation making chips and salsa the official state snack.
New Mexico lawmakers are no better. Do they really have time to pick a state cookie (it’s the bizcochito), state slogan (”Everybody is somebody in New Mexico”) or state poem (”A Nuevo Mexico”) when jail overcrowding is threatening to bankrupt our communities and water shortages are threatening to create ghost towns?
We don’t have anything against bizcochitos, just like we don’t dislike chips and salsa. We do, however, have a problem with state legislators who fixate on high school cheerleaders or official state symbols instead of worrying about the huge problems facing state government.