Maryland official state exercise?

February 1, 2008 5:19:37 AM PST
A proposal to make walking the official exercise of Maryland could get the boot - again.

A bill sponsored by Sen. Verna Jones was introduced Thursday, but some lawmakers question what makes the activity so special to Maryland. A previous attempt at the designation was vetoed several years ago by then-Gov. Robert Ehrlich.

"It's like saying breathing is the state activity because everyone does it whether you want to or not," said Delegate Richard Sossi, a Republican.

The state already has 21 state symbols, from the obvious (blue crabs and the Chesapeake Bay retriever) to the curious (jousting and the shell of an extinct snail). A multilayered cake native to Smith Island is on the legislative menu for designation as the state dessert, and lawmakers are taking some ribbing over the proliferation of state symbols.

"There are lots more important, substantive issues that we take up down here, but symbols can be important, too," said Delegate Dan Morhaim, a Democrat. "I know they become the butt of jokes, and I understand that, but this is a small, small part of what we do."

Maryland lawmakers gave walking an official designation in 2003 - but Ehrlich, a Republican, vetoed the idea.

"It serves no public purpose," Ehrlich wrote, even as he signed into law a bill making the thoroughbred Maryland's official horse.

The veto was a setback for an elementary school in Montgomery County where students proposed the designation, but lawmakers under a new Democratic governor say it's time to revisit the idea.

"He did not understand the importance of walking," said Jones, a Democrat. "It's the most basic exercise. Everyone can do it."