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General Assembly creates jobs -- for opossums

Here’s one job the General Assembly has created: a bill putting the Brasstown opossum back to work.

On Thursday the Senate passed the infamous opossum bill. The House bill, which would allow a live opossum to be lowered in a cage for the popular New Year’s Eve “possum drop” in Brasstown, now heads to the governor’s desk for his signature.

The bill has the mundane title of “Captivity License and Permit Amendments,” but the duplicate Senate version had been titled the “Opposum Right-to-Work Act.”

The House approved the bill on Feb. 13, after amending it to require that any wild animal captured for display in a cultural event must be returned to the wild at or near where it was captured.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals took legal action to stop the opossum drop on the grounds that state law prohibits possession of live wildlife without a permit. The Wildlife Resources Commission had given the Brasstown event permission, but a state administrative law judge ruled it didn’t have that authority.

The bill would allow wild animals to be held for display by licensed sportsmen. It also says that any legal action taken under this chapter, should it become law, could only be filed in the county where the alleged violation occurred.

Senate comedians craft possum "right to work" bill

The House bill that would clear the way for a popular New Year’s Eve “possum drop” in Brasstown now has a companion bill in the Senate, where its comedian authors have dubbed it “The Opossum Right-to-Work Act.”

SB60, sponsored by Republican Senators Jim Davis, a two-term orthodontist from Franklin, and Stan Bingham, a seven-term lumber company owner from Denton.

The House went with the more staid title, “Captivity License and Permit Amendments.” That bill has been referred to the Rules Committee.

The bills would give the state Wildlife Resources Commission the authority to issue permits for wild animals to be used in “scientific, educational or exhibition purposes.”

But it’s not a funny matter to animal-protection advocates. People of the Ethical Treatment of Animals sued and stopped the state from allowing an opossum from being trapped for the event.

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