Well, a group of GOP legislators in Vermont have vowed not to fall prey to April fool pranks again this year. Last year, as some readers may recall, five VTGOP legislators (two state representatives from the NEK, one from Orange County and two state senators from the Rutland area) in 2016 were readily taken in by legislative satire found on a popular Vermont-based online humor site.
The April 1st 2016 news “report” was about Vermont legislation under consideration in Vermont House and Senate committees which, if enacted, supposedly would have mandated (under penalty of fines) the number of daylight hours a dairy cow could legally spend “indoors.” The “legislation” was said to list appropriate outside facilities for the dairy herd leisure activities. Suggested activities were defined — but to avoid any undue burden, farmers were not required to be in compliance. All that in bill VT H. 4/1/16: the imaginary “Dairy Cow Outdoor Leisure Act”
The proposed law, the story claimed, was inspired by scientific research completed at a major university: [The study] measured how much work dairy cows will do to access pasture, by pushing on a weighted gate. The cows worked hard to access pasture, especially at night. As a comparison, the researchers also measured how much weight the cows would push to access their regular feed when kept indoors; cows worked just as hard to go outside as they did to access fresh feed when they were hungry.
In summary: “[…] cows are highly motivated to be outside” said professor Marina von Keyserlingk, lead author of the study.
Well, back in 2016 some conservative anti-regulation GOP lawmakers didn’t take time to notice the date — April 1. As a group the five, quick to react and soon to be embarrassed state senators and reps, took action. They composed a protest letter.
The letter, dated the next day [!] was sent to the committee chairs in both houses they believed were handling the legislation — and more incredibly, it was released to news outlets. It read in part: “We’re talking about unchecked regulatory aggression. There is scant evidence to substantiate the legislation, and we are skeptical of the assertion that dairy cows desire leisure time.” They railed against faulty and unproven science.
And the letter closed with this: “No matter what, we wish to make one thing understood; whatever it is, we’re against it. Even if you change or condensed it, we remain against it — any committee version of the bill.”
Fast forward to 2017: the gullible gang of Republicans have said that should there ever be any effort to mandate leisure time for dairy cows, they would naturally be opposed — after double-checking the date. Lesson learned?