ANNAPOLIS – Members of a House committee were beneficiaries of a clever lobbying ploy Wednesday: free milk and cookies.
Delegates dipped into a bag of homemade chocolate chip cookies and sipped from cartons of milk as they listened to testimony in support of a bill to make milk the official state drink.
“It’s going to be a great promotional tool,” said Del. Paul Stull, R-Frederick and sponsor of the bill, particularly on billboards where the “official state drink” label will encourage people to buy more milk.
If the bill passes, milk would join other state icons such as the Baltimore oriole as the state bird, the Maryland blue crab as the state crustacean and jousting as the official state sport.
Stull said bestowing an official state title on “nature’s most perfect food” would help an industry that has suffered falling prices over the past few years. He said dairy farmers make up the third-largest sector of Maryland agriculture.
Other speakers at the Commerce and Government Matters Committee hearing extolled the milk bill as a means to encourage good health.
“Drinking milk gives you desirable features like glowing skin, vibrant hair, white teeth and strong stable bones,” said Emily O’Hara, 17, who was crowned the state’s dairy princess in July.
O’Hara, who has worked on her family’s Frederick dairy farm all her life, plans to open her own floral shop after high school. But she’s still high on dairy farmers.
“The dairy farmers work 365 days a year. They deserve recognition and need to feel proud of their product,” said O’Hara, adorned in a tall gold crown and silky white sash.
O’Hara, who has also acted as the “Healthy Cinderella” in a rags-to-riches skit about the health benefits of drinking milk, said she has noticed a marked improvement in milk appreciation among her friends at Frederick High School since she was elected.
The bill has no formal opposition, but Stull noted that a similar bill died last year when the Senate tried to amend it to include topaz as the state gem.
Delegates, who had just sat through a two-hour hearing on public access to electronic records, greeted the snack break with appreciative hoots and hollers.
As the cookies were passed around, there was only one question from Del. John Wood, D-St. Mary’s, the acting committee chairman: “Are they hot?”