Raleigh, N.C. — State House lawmakers voted unanimously Monday night to add six new symbols to the state's official list.
House Bill 830 would name the pine barrens tree frog as the state's official frog and the marbled salamander as the state's official amphibian.
Rep. Marilyn Avila, R-Wake, credited those proposals to Rachel Hopkins, a young student she says is “as passionate as any Ph.D. researcher” on the future of the state's ecosystem and the amphibians in it.
“She felt it would help if you and I could understand how important these amphibians are to the health of our ecosystem,” Avila said.
The bill also names the Megalodon shark's tooth as the state's official fossil.
Rep. Pat McElraft, R-Carteret, said that, when she was first contacted about a "state fossil" by a teacher at Newport Middle School, "I was afraid that they were talking about me.”
Rep. Jeff Elmore, R-Wilkes, added the provision to make clay the state's official art medium, noting its importance over the centuries in North Carolina and its modern-day role at Seagrove and other art communities.
"We have more potters per capita in North Carolina than any other state," Elmore said.
The measure names Vollis Simpson's unique whirligigs the state's official folk art. Rep. Susan Martin, R-Wilson, encouraged her fellow lawmakers to come see Wilson's new Whirligig Park featuring Simpson's works.
The measure also names the Virginia opossum the state's official marsupial, but no lawmaker spoke on that provision. (Given that it's also the state's only marsupial, there would have been little to debate.)
If the bill wins approval, the opossum will also become the only state symbol that is dropped at midnight to celebrate New Year's.
It now goes to the Senate.