Tongie kids ‘fishing’ for legislative action
A year ago, Karen Stockman's third-graders started angling for a state fish.
The children voted on the bluegill and started their campaign. They wrote to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who wrote back, saying the designation would require a change in state law.
The Tonganoxie Elementary School students next wrote to Rep. Kenny Wilk, R-Lansing, and Sen. Roger Pine, D-Lawrence. And last March, Wilk visited their class and talked to the children about how bills become law.
Stockman has continued the state-fish pursuit with this year's class of third-graders.
And she and her students are staying in touch with Wilk, who said he would help.
When contacted Monday, Wilk said he planned to introduce the bill this week.
"I would suspect we'll have a bill number on Wednesday or Thursday," Wilk said. "We'll have to work with the committee chairman to see if we can get a hearing."
And if a hearing occurs, Stockman plans to take her students -- both from last year and this year. And some will speak to lawmakers.
"We will testify why we want the state fish and why we want the bluegill," Stockman said.
Wilk said he wasn't sure whether the bill would become law.
"I don't have any guarantees, but I'm hopeful," Wilk said.
Stockman said the children are learning important lessons about government.
"I'm cautiously optimistic," Stockman said of having legislators approve a state fish. "But just to have my students have the experience. I want them to truly feel empowered to have a voice in their government."