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Fluttering By the Budget Mess

S. Lincoln

A bill heard in the House Municipal & Cultural Affairs committee Thursday brought a welcome respite from the simmering angst of the state budget crisis. It names the Gulf Fritillary as the official state butterfly.

“Louisiana has 45 state symbols, ranging from the state dog* to the state donut**,” Monroe Representative Jay Morris explained to the committee. “We don’t have a state butterfly at this time, and all of our neighboring states do have one.”

He says the Gulf Fritillary, also known as the ‘”passion” butterfly, is a perfect candidate.

“The passion butterfly takes its name from the passion vine, which is the host plant. And it’s distributed throughout the South and all over the state of Louisiana.”

Morris, who was also the author of the special session bill to “clean” 4 pennies of existing sales tax, took a bit of ribbing from committee members.

“Representative Morris, I would have to say that your bills through the special session and this session have went from one end to the other,” committee chair Johnny Berthelot observed.

“Representative Berthelot, for the record I want to say that this bill does not create a tax, does not extend a tax, and does not eliminate an exemption from a tax,” Morris responded.

Baton Rouge Representative Patricia Smith  then asked, “As you very eloquently stated, this does not extend a tax, or what have you. But does it morph into anything else?”

Smith got both groans and giggles for her pun, and that encouraged others.

“Does this discriminate against any other butterfly that’s common to the state of Louisiana?” asked Baton Rouge Representative Rick Edmonds, a pastor, and the former vice president of the Louisiana Family Forum.

“This butterfly believes in civil rights – all of them,” Morris replied.

“It really sounds like you had a conversation with this butterfly,” Representative Robert Billiot observed.

Billiot is from Westwego, as is the Senate President, prompting Morris to reply. “I feel very close to it. In fact,  I’m having more conversations with this butterfly than I am Senator Alario.”

The bill advanced, unanimously. 

* Catahoula hound

** beignet