SKANEATELES | Irene Manna's fourth-grade class at State Street Intermediate School received a visit from state Sen. John DeFransisco and Assemblyman Gary Finch, as well as Communications Director Tiffany Latino June 30.
The senator and assemblyman visited the class to talk about what there is to be done about the wood frog, which the students hope to make the official New York state amphibian.
The frog has gained attention to medical researchers looking to improve organ donations because of its ability to come back to life after its internal organs are frozen completely and then thawed.
The class, led by frog enthusiast Lili Winkelman, had previously tried to write letters and call senators to try to gain support for the bill. The measure passed through the Senate, but unfortunately it died in the Assembly when the legislative session ended.
"It got stuck. We'll have to start all over," Manna explained to her students.
The government officials helped the students to understand why this happened and answered their questions on how they can get the bill going again.
"For your bill, the state snack bill made it more difficult," DeFrancisco said, referring to yogurt's designation as the official state snack. "They don't want to go through that debate again."
"We ran into a couple of roadblocks," Finch said. "We only like to do a 'state' thing once a year, and the yogurt state snack was a vocal point in the media. My advice would be to do something to humanize this frog. We have people in the Assembly that are from New York City and don't even know what a frog is. We had all these issues, and we didn't have enough time to get this bill passed."
The officials explained the controversy involved with the yogurt state snack bill and pointed out that filibusters can seem foolish sometimes.
"Whether a bill is good or bad doesn't matter to some people. It's the political overtones," DeFrancisco said. "We come across it a lot, and it's wrong. Bills get stopped for petty reasons. It's one of the bad things that happens in politics."
Manna mentioned to the officials that she and the students were planning on starting a wood frog club, and they wanted to involve all fourth-grade teachers and students in New York state to strengthen the cause, which they thought would be a good idea.
"Depending on the notoriety, one third of the bills that are put in are passed," DeFranciso said.
"The good news is that you'll have senators sponsoring this legislation for next time," Finch said.
The event ended with yearbook signings and photos. The officials handed out certificates of merit to the students, encouraging them to keep up their determination and assuring them that if they do they may see the wood frog become the state amphibian in the future.