Did you hear the one about the state legislator who tussled with a cockroach at a political debate? No joke here. Kansas state Rep. Vaughn Flora (D) paid $2,500 to settle a $75,000 lawsuit filed by an anti-abortion protester who wore a cockroach costume to a September 2006 gubernatorial debate, The Topeka Capital-Journal reports. In May, Flora was found guilty of misdemeanor battery and fined $100 for removing a mask worn by Operation Rescue President Troy Newman and scratching his face. Operation Rescue protesters dressed as cockroaches to mock Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' veto of legislation that would have bolstered state regulation of sanitation at abortion clinics.
Children might scoff at the idea of getting underwear for Christmas. But the mother of one West Virginia National Guardsman began gathering donations of underwear for her son and others serving in Iraq during the holiday season, according to the Charleston Daily Mail . Although the Army issues briefs, soldiers often must throw out several pairs during a mission and replace them at their own expense, explained Tammi Brown, whose son serves in the state's 821 st Engineering Group.
Youths in Oklahoma's juvenile institutions had better watch out next Christmas, according to The Oklahoman . Office of Juvenile Affairs Director Gene Christian is trying to abolish the state's Santa Claus Commission, which is tasked with providing gifts for youths in state custody. Christian argues that 40 percent of those who receive the gifts are criminals over the age of 18 and that the state instead should offer help with educational scholarships. In 2007, the commission spent about $5,500 in private donations for 600 duffel bags.
Talk about limited government. The South Dakota Legislature's annual session of 35 days already is among the shortest in the nation. Now, citizen legislators will have four-day workweeks for most of their time at the Statehouse in Pierre, The Associated Press reports. Senate President Pro Tempore Bob Gray (R) said the shorter workweeks will give legislators more time to keep up with their private businesses and jobs during the session.
Oregon state Sen. Larry George (R) doesn't want to be at the Statehouse at all this year. He has filed a lawsuit to try to block the Legislature's first-ever annual session, slated to begin on Feb. 4, according to The Oregonian . The Oregon Legislature is one of a half-dozen that normally meet every other year, but it decided last year to "test drive" an annual session. George said that he favors meeting every year but that voters should approve a constitutional amendment to make that happen.