The Times-Picayune reports (thanks, Brad) that a committee voted 8-5 to approve HB 503 on Thursday, so it will now be considered by the full Louisiana House. The vote came after a debate in which legislators grappled with difficult questions, in particular this one: which Holy Bible should become the official state book of Louisiana?
There shall be an official state book. The official state book shall be the Holy Bible, published by Johannes Prevel, (Prevel, Jean, active 1510-1528, printer. & Petit, Jean, fl. 1492-1530.) [sic], which is the oldest edition of the Holy Bible in the Louisiana State Museum system. The use on official documents of the state and with the insignia of the state is hereby authorized.
In other words, Carmody says he wants to make a specific individual Bible the official state book. He explained later that when he started thinking about which Bible should be the state Bible, he decided it should be the oldest one in the state. That's apparently the one above. There are problems, though. For example, it doesn't make any sense. How could you "use" any book (let alone one that is 500 years old) "on official documents of the state"? Are staples involved?
There's another problem. According to Carmody, that particular book is privately owned, so—for a reason he didn't specify—it can't be an official state symbol. Carmody said he amended the bill for that reason, and the version he offered on April 10 looked like this:
There shall be an official state book. The official state book shall be the Authorized King James Version of the Holy Bible that is housed in the State Library of Louisiana.
Turns out you can watch Louisiana's committee meetings on the internet, and the video is available the same day. Not that most people would want to watch a meeting of the Louisiana House Committee on Municipal, Parochial, and Cultural Affairs, but you could. And I did.
First the really important business was taken up. Thornwell was declared "Yellow Rail Capital of the World," and Grand Couteau was recognized as the state's "Sweet Dough Pie Capital." All lamented the witness's failure to actually bring a sweet dough pie with her, but the resolution was adopted anyway. After several other matters, Rep. Carmody appeared. (This is about 20% of the way in, if you care.)
To kick off this part of the hearing, a staff member read the bill aloud. It was probably just coincidence that the bill to make a Holy Bible the official book of Louisiana was read aloud by Ms. Tina Righteous, but then maybe it wasn't.
Carmody explained how the bill came to be. He said "a constituent" called and wondered why Louisiana had all these state symbols but no official state book. Why, that's true, Carmody exclaimed. Well, he responded, let's say we were to have an official state book. What book do you think would be appropriate? Why, the Holy Bible, said the constituent. And that's just how it happened, boys and girls.
As you have probably realized by now, there is yet another major problem with Carmody's amended bill, and when his statement was finished, Rep. Stephen Ortego lost no time in pointing it out. "Why the King James Version?" he asked. Wait, what? Somebody introduced a bill to make the Bible the official state book, and your first question is "why the King James Version?"