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Mar 20, 2015 7:59 PM

Fallout from 4th-graders' failed bill dishes harsh words for NH lawmakers


CONCORD - It's sparking a national debate. State lawmakers shot down House Bill 373, drafted by Lincoln Akerman 4th-graders from Hampton Falls.

The bill proposed designating the Red-Tailed Hawk as the state raptor. In the process of killing the bill, they ridiculed students, but now lawmakers are on the receiving end of some harsh words.

Hundreds of Facebook posts saying lawmakers were unnecessarily rude to the young students who worked hard on their class project.

Should the N.H. Legislature debate bills proposed by students?

Kittie M. posted, "It was a great opportunity for these children to see how government works, but instead it showed them how little their interest and wanting to learn meant to this group."

Michael O. posted, "That is brutality at its finest. The Statehouse should be ashamed of itself."

Some lawmakers chose to use the teachable moment on March 12 to launch into tirades while the students watched in the gallery.

One of those tirades by Rep. Warren Groen, R-Rochester, went viral on the Internet.

"It grasps them 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," Groen said.

NH1 News contacted Groen so he could tell his side of the story. He made no apologies.

"I find the selective outrage curious. Every week in Manchester a fourth-grade future class of 2025 is dying every week in Manchester. In Manchester, the numbers I've seen there are about 20 to 25 abortions every Thursday."

Another comment many view as belittling also garnering national attention was made by Rep. John Burt, R-Goffstown.

"We'll be picking a state hot dog next," Burt said.

Dog no. Cat yes!

Just the day before the students were publicly chastised for wasting lawmakers' time with frivolous legislation HB 423, designating the bobcat as the New Hampshire state wildcat, passed without debate. That bill proposed by fourth- and fifth-graders from the Well School - a private school in Peterborough.

In recent years, lawmakers have voted to make the pumpkin the state fruit, the white potato the official state vegetable, and the list goes on, and on.

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