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Saturday, January 29, 2005

Proposed House Bill 5996

Sometimes a Duck is a Duck, other times it takes an Act of Congress to turn it into a Frog.

Here’s a little story that further clarifies the overzealous legislation that passes for sanity in Connecticut. Covenant Soup Kitchen is a Episcopal Church sponsored community program in Windham, Connecticut. Their operation is a good one, and their mission statement reads much the way you might think:

Mission Statement:
Realizing that people can be impoverished physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and culturally, as well as just from lack of money,the Isaiah 58 Ministry's mission is to address these needs by providing not only food, but an environment of care, love, support, and safety to those who come through our doors. This ministry also relies on its faith in a loving and caring God to help us carry out this mission.

Every year they hold fund-raisers in an effort to increase the resources from which to distribute their care. One such event is what is referred to as a “Frog Race.” It’s your typical fund-raiser whereby anyone interested in sponsoring a plastic frog can donate money to the cause. The sponsored frog is then released down the Willimantic River with the rest of the sponsored frogs. The individual sponsoring the first frog to cross the finish line down the river a bit wins donated prizes. It’s nothing more than a simple, innovative, and a good wholesome attempt at raising funds for those in need.

But there was a problem.

It seems that the State Statutes of the State of Connecticut are restricting when it comes to racing plastic animals down a natural water way. Specifically:


(g) (1) Any sponsoring organization qualified to conduct a bazaar or raffle under the provisions of section 7-172 may operate a duck-race raffle once each calendar year. Such raffles shall conform to the provisions of sections 7-170 to 7-186, inclusive, and shall be subject to regulation by the executive director. For the purpose of this subsection, "duck-race raffle" means a raffle in which artificial ducks, numbered consecutively to correspond with the number of tickets sold for such raffle, are placed in a naturally moving stream of water at a designated starting point and in which the ticket corresponding to the number of the first duck to pass a designated finishing point is the winning ticket. (2) The executive director of the Division of Special Revenue, with the advice and consent of the Gaming Policy Board, shall adopt regulations, in accordance with chapter 54, that establish procedures for the operation of duck-race raffles.

The problem is that The Covenant Soup Kitchen had all these plastic frogs. The State of Connecticut is rather particular in their Statutes since they only allow this type “raffle” if the contestants are ducks. But, the purpose of the legislation is to assure that bogus organizations don’t take advantage of the caring public. So no one would care whether the molded plastic animals were ducks, frogs, or emus..right? No big deal right? Plastic frogs…plastic ducks, who cares…right?

Wrong.

Last week, State Rep. Walter Pawelkiewicz, D-Windham had to submit a proposed Bill to the Connecticut House. We live in a world that requires an Act of State Congress to allow a church group feeding the poor to race plastic frogs down a river instead of plastic ducks.


General Assembly
Proposed Bill No. 5996
January Session, 2005
LCO No. 2579


Referred to Committee on Public Safety and Security

Introduced by:

REP. PAWELKIEWICZ, 49th Dist.

AN ACT ALLOWING THE CONDUCT OF A FROG RACE RAFFLE IN THE TOWN OF WINDHAM.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

That section 7-185a of the general statutes be amended to allow any sponsoring organization qualified to conduct a bazaar or raffle to operate a frog race raffle once each calendar year in the town of Windham.

Statement of Purpose:

To allow the conduct of a frog race raffle once each year in the town of Windham, the frog capitol of Connecticut.

What ever happened to common sense? What happened to the time when you didn’t require intervention on behalf of the Executive Director of the Division of Special Revenue in order to raise a couple bucks for the hungry? What ever happened to the time when distinguishing between a molded duck and a molded frog only mattered to a three-year-old in the bathtub?

Apparently, those times are gone. We are constantly reminded by the idiocy of over-legislation. Most recently, Connecticut received national attention when State Representative Andrew Fleischmann (D-West Hartford) proposed a law that requires movie theaters to post the actual start time of the feature movie so that moviegoers can avoid the plethora of preceding previews and advertisements. Most municipalities in Connecticut, and other states for that matter, will ticket you if you leave your keys in a running an unattended car. Also, there are a number of towns in Connecticut that give you a whopping 30 minutes to remove the snow from your sidewalk after the flakes stop falling. Failure to do so is a violation of ordinance and, also, provides some ammunition to plaintiff attorneys representing those who fall on your walkway after that unreasonable time frame.

The plastic frog/duck deal isn’t really all that Earth shattering. And, most importantly, the issue is being resolved so that the Covenant Soup Kitchen can do their good work. But, did it really require and Act of Congress to set things straight? Of course not.

Perhaps someone can figure out how to legislate some common sense. It’s a pretty good bet that it would not pass the Connecticut House and the Senate unanimously. It might not pass at all.

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