Stateline Story

WORTH NOTING: Talking Toilets Take on Drunken Driving

  • February 16, 2007
  • By Daniel Vock

"Hey there, big guy. Having a few drinks?" It's not a cheesy pick-up line. It's a talking urinal cake, the latest technology in combating drunken driving in New Mexico. The state has ordered 500 of the deodorizing devices for use in bars and restaurants, according to the (Santa Fe) New Mexican. The message is obviously targeted for men, who commit three times as many drunken driving crimes as women. But the urinal cake manufacturer also produces stall door devices aimed at women.

Just in time for President's Day, a panel of the Virginia House nixed a plan for an Old Dominion celebration of President Lincoln's 200 th birthday in 2009. A state senator who championed the measure noted that both of Lincoln's parents were born in Virginia. House Republican leaders blocked the idea because they said Virginia didn't need a separate celebration. But a Richmond lawyer blasted the idea, telling the panel it would be "kowtowing to the leader of Virginia's enemies." The lawyer, Robert Lamb, said Lincoln sent armies into Virginia that "laid waste to the land," according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Goal-tending is illegal in basketball, but a bill in Boston would make it safer. Massachusetts Rep. James Timilty (D) wants to outlaw chain basketball nets popular on outdoor courts because they can cause injuries. His idea came from an 11-year-old girl who cut her finger on a chain net and needed 25 stitches, the Boston Herald reports.

In a legislative sequel, Colorado lawmakers are trying to build on last year's "Make My Day" law. It allows Coloradans to shoot home invaders. The new proposal, dubbed the "Make My Day Better" bill, would protect people who shoot workplace invaders, writes the Denver Post. Meanwhile, Tennessee is considering a similar law to deter carjackings, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports.

At least the Utah House should be secure. State Rep. Craig Frank (R) told the Deseret News that 40 percent of Utah lawmakers have taken classes to qualify to carry concealed weapons. And on his blog, Frank posted pictures of six unnamed colleagues packing heat.

Medicaid recipients in West Virginia now can get Weight Watchers benefits, but it won't cost taxpayers anything extra, according to the Charleston Daily Mail . A managed-care company that handles a quarter of the state's Medicaid patients added the benefit to try to reduce obesity.

A local songwriter, playing a guitar and wearing an eye patch, performed "Montana Lullaby" in front of the Montana House this week, in a bid to make the song the first state lullaby in the country, reports the Great Falls Tribune . It would be Montana's third official song, but Tennessee already has six.

A rookie lawmaker in Wisconsin earned a name for himself during Gov. Jim Doyle's (D) budget address Tuesday. Rep. Bill Kramer (R) was the only one applauding after Doyle mentioned that oil companies made record profits last year. His clapping was so loud, it could be heard on the TV broadcast of the speech, according to The Associated Press.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) paid up on a Super Bowl bet, even though he won. Daniels sent Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) a basket of Indiana goods as consolation after the Indianapolis Colts beat the Chicago Bears, the AP reports. "Hoosiers are gracious people, especially in victory," Daniels explained. Last month, Daniels lost a Sugar Bowl bet when Louisiana State University defeated Notre Dame.

Alaska is banning dogs from the state Capitol after an unfortunate "accident" on the fourth floor, the AP says. A North Carolina state senator wants owners of dangerous dogs to carry insurance, reports the (Greensboro) News-Record . And the Tennessean says state lawmakers there are considering creating criminal charges for owners of dogs that attack people.

Utah lawmakers couldn't resist cracking jokes while considering a bill to crack down on Internet sales of erectile dysfunction medicines, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. According to the paper, one Republican senator quipped, "The state of Utah has invested millions of dollars to develop a new slogan for the state of Utah - Life Elevated. I would want to do nothing to hurt that image." And a Democratic colleague added, "This is a hard vote for me. … It's been keeping me up late at night."

Looking ahead: The National Governors Association meets in Washington, D.C., next weekend. Events include a dinner with President Bush at the White House. … Backers of a bill to ensure businesses give women time to breast-feed their babies hope Democratic control of the Oregon Legislature will boost chances for passage this session. A similar measure was watered down two years ago when Republicans ran the House, The Oregonian reports.