Bill Blotter: Virginia Governor Waxes Poetic

Welcome to the first edition of the Bill Blotter -- a regular feature that will highlight the under-reported and more colorful bills winding their way through the federal and state legislatures.

In this edition, Virginians welcome a state bat among the already named state bird, state boat, state dog, state fish, state fossils and more; Spam and other canned meat products face higher taxes in Washington; and breast-feeding Kansans must keep their shirts on in public.

Virginia Big-Eared Bat Named Official State Bat

On rare occasions, government officials add a bit of humor to their announcements. On March 28, when Virginia Gov. Mark Warner announced his signing of a bill naming the Virginia Big-Eared Bat the official state bat of Virginia, the press release was written in limerick form:

"I took some grief for my nudist park pun.

But resist I cannot on this one.

I will sign this bill,

more or less of free will.

But I can't do it without having some fun.

"We have a state dog and a fish and a bird.

And of the fossil I'm sure you have heard.

So why not a bat?

What's wrong with that?

The state beverage is no more absurd.

"Upon my signature now it appears,

The designation will now last for years.

I'll spare you the Latin

If you're seeking the bat in

A guidebook, it's the one with big ears.

"I think our bat's up to the test.

If you doubt it, just ask Adam West.

He was TV's Bruce Wayne --

the caped crusader's real name --

and could 'Zap!' and 'Kapow!' with the best."

Spam to Aid in Washington State Budget Woes

The Washington state Senate recently announced a budget proposal that includes a higher tax on canned meat -- including the popular Spam. In fact, no tinned meat would be free from the tax hike that includes products such as cigarettes and hard liquor.

While the burden of such a business-and-occupation tax would rest on the producers of these products rather than consumers, the higher costs have a sneaky way of trickling down to consumers.

Earlier this year, the Washington Supreme Court ruled in favor of Nalley's Chili Con Carne, saying nonperishable meat products should be taxed at the same rate as perishable meat products. Justice Susan Owens, however, noted in her opinion, that whether or not a meat is "perishable" may be up to interpretation.

"Once canned, the chili has an indefinite shelf life in terms of remaining fit for human consumption," she wrote.

The Legislature is likely to take action this year to require canned meat producers, such as those of the beloved Spam, to pay a higher tax rate that could be worth $11 million to the Washington state budget.

Breast-Feeding Will Remain Private Matter in Kansas -- For Now

Breast-feeding women in Kansas will have to keep their shirts on in public for a while longer.

The state Senate voted 20-14 on March 24 to send a proposal proclaiming a woman's right to breast-feed "wherever she has a right to be" back to committee.

Opponents were not satisfied with outstanding questions such as whether businesses would have to allow a woman to breast-feed at work and how not to offend those who would be witness to the feeding process.

The Kansas House had passed a version that said a woman can discreetly breast-feed in any place she has the right to be and exempted nursing mothers from jury duty. The Senate panel removed the word "discreetly.''

To be clear, there is no Kansas law banning breast-feeding in public and the purpose of the bill was an effort to clarify that.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.