The North Carolina General Assembly is in the midst of some hard work, with a number of challenges facing the state.
The legislators are trying to put together an amendment to the state constitution which would give landowners more protection against eminent domain actions; the state is facing continuing budget issues; there is still talk of significant changes to the state tax code; the GOP-controlled Assembly is considering major cuts in jobless benefits; and weighing whether to participate, and to what degree, in the federal healthcare overhaul.
Those are but a handful of the weighty issues facing legislators.
So, given an overwhelming crush of bills to consider, some of which will have significant effects on North Carolina residents for years, why is the General Assembly wasting time and resources considering a possum drop bill?
You read that right — a possum drop bill.
Seems the tiny community of Brasstown, in the far western portion of the state, has a tradition of dropping a possum from a tall pole each New Year’s Eve.
Officials there trap a wild opossum, shove it in a cage, lift it to the top of the pole where it’s left for some time, then slowly lower it during the final countdown to the New Year, similar to the famous dropping of the ball in New York.
This year, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals filed suit and successfully stopped the practice, on grounds that it was cruel to the animal and violated state law. Even though the town received a permit for the actions from the Wildlife Resources Commission, PETA successfully argued under state law the commission did not have the authority to grant such a license.
Now Brasstown officials have had legislators in both the House of Representatives and the state Senate to introduce legislation amending that law to give the commission authority to issue such a permit.
Aside from the fact that the practice is, we believe, offensive in its unjustifiable cruelty to animals, do we really want our legislators taking time to debate such a practice when so many more serious issues need their attention?