State rocks and religious resolutions: What’s going on in the state legislature today?

As an informed citizen, I am curious about the laws being created in my state. So, I get a daily report on House and Senate bills introduced in Pennsylvania and the actions taken.

Today was interesting… I caught up on what was done all last week. Oh, there was plenty of important stuff proposed– bills (called ACTS) that hopefully will become laws. But there are regularly many “resolutions” proposed to the legislative bodies. Many are labeled: “INTRODUCED AS NONCONTROVERSIAL RESOLUTION UNDER RULE 35”.

They include such well-meaning items as:

  • A Resolution designating the month of June 2016 as “Healthy Living and Healthy Eating Month” in Pennsylvania and encouraging all residents to eat healthy.
  • A Resolution designating the month of June 2016 as “Adopt a Cat Month” in Pennsylvania.
  • A Resolution commemorating the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Borough of Plymouth, Luzerne County.
  • A Resolution observing June 19, 2016, as “Juneteenth Independence Day” in Pennsylvania in recognition of June 19, 1865, the date on which slavery was abolished finally in all regions of the United States.
  • A Resolution recognizing the week of June 13 through 19, 2016, as “Men’s Health Week” in Pennsylvania.
  • A Resolution designating the month of July 2016 as “MECP2 Duplication Syndrome Awareness Month” in Pennsylvania.

Rule 35 allows for those resolutions “deemed noncontroversial, including, but not limited to, condolence and congratulatory resolutions, shall be considered under the proper order of business on the same day as introduced or within two legislative days thereafter without being referred to committee.” Such resolutions bring attention to a particular issue. While some are obscure and maybe ridiculous, I guess I don’t have a huge problem with them since they don’t take much time or effort.

However, I noted that this one wasn’t INTRODUCED AS NONCONTROVERSIAL RESOLUTION UNDER RULE 35:    Recognizing The Observance of Ramadan: House Resolution 921

It was referred to the Rules committee.

Hmm. What will the committee have to say? The resolution for the National Day of Prayer qualified as NONCONTROVERSIAL. I’m wonder what’s going on here. Is this Islamic mention controversial, perhaps? Should it be?

I’m guessing it will likely just disappear without any action. Clearly, there should be no religious resolutions of any kind in the legislature since it sounds like promotion of religion. Recognizing religious practices are not the job of the state lawmaking body. Stop it.

Meanwhile, some of the ACTS are dumb and a waste of time. Like this one:

Senate Bill 1314: Designating quartz the official state rock of Pennsylvania

As a geologist who knows a bit about the economic impact of rocks and minerals in PA, I have a few things to say about this proposed bill. First, quartz is a mineral consisting of silica and oxygen. It’s not commonly thought of as a rock which is a collection of minerals. Sandstone, a rock, is mostly made of quartz. There is a difference. It’s an important difference. Don’t ignore the difference. I thought lawyers and lawmakers recognize that language is important.

Secondly, quartz? REALLY? Ugh. No.

Anthracite coal (made almost entirely of the mineral carbon, but having a decent percentage of other minerals that result in ash after it is burned) is, by far, the more appropriate “state rock” of Pennsylvania. The history of anthracite coal began in PA and the product fueled industrial progress. The Pennsylvanian geologic period (around 300 million years ago) was named after the state and is notable for the formation of extensive organic deposits that became coal beds, epitomized in the thick, folded beds of northeastern PA anthracite and the vast layers of western PA bituminous coal. PA still means coal country to many people. It’s historic, if no longer popular.


I’ve said enough. The bottom line is NO QUARTZ. Quartz is boring and not even economically important to PA. It should not have been considered. Someone didn’t do enough homework (yeah, you, Sen. Killion).

It’s easy to be annoyed with the legislative process these days. All we can do is voice our opinions. They need informed feedback. They REALLY need informed feedback. It’s up to us to provide it.

3 thoughts on “State rocks and religious resolutions: What’s going on in the state legislature today?

  1. I nominate the East Berlin Formation of red sandstone for the state rock of Connecticut. It is the stratum which gave us Yaleosaurus, the Simsbury Rutiodon and hundreds of tracks particularly at Dinosaur Park.

  2. Interesting indeed. I grew up about 20 miles south of Pittsburgh, haven’t lived in PA for a long, long time. It’s nice to see things haven’t changed much in Harrisburg. Not that it’s any different in all the other states I’ve lived in. :0 But at least in NH I get to say “Live Free or Die”…whatever that means. 😉

  3. Ontario has a provincial mineral, the amethyst. Just typing that sentence has made me sleepy.

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