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State tortoise proposal crawls its way through Senate

Among all the other legislation speeding through the Capitol in the final days of session, Senators approved a “slower-moving” proposal Friday when they approved a bill to make the Gopher Tortoise Florida’s state tortoise. (Apologies for the terrible pun.)

Senators approved the proposal 36-1 by Sen. Burt Saunders, R-Naples, with only a handful of their own tortoise puns. The bill now heads to the House.

The Gopher Tortoise also has the distinction of being Georgia’s state reptile. But in Florida that honor has already been claimed by the American Alligator.

Of course, Florida’s list of state symbols isn’t exactly exclusive. Florida already has a state flag, motto, seal, tree, fruit, beverage, citrus archive, stone, gem, wildflower, play, animal, freshwater fish, saltwater fish, marine mammal, saltwater mammal, butterfly, reptile, air fair, rodeo, festival, moving image center and archive, litter control symbol, pageant, opera, renaissance festival, railroad museum, transportation museum, soil, fiddle contest, band, sports hall of fame and maritime museum.

Yesterday, senators also sent a proposal to the House to make “Florida Where the Sawgrass Meets the Sky” the state anthem. And later on today’s agenda, a proposal by Sen. Carey Baker, R-Eustis, to name the Florida Cracker Horse the state Horse.

For the curious, check out partial lists of the existing state symbols here and here.