Pennsylvania lawmakers justifiably are often accused of advancing important legislation about as rapidly as molasses drips in Antarctica ? assuming you could find it there.
So it was terrific to see these typically self-centered snails finally act with a sense of urgency and shift to full Speed Racer-mode last week.
Certainly there was ample cause to do so. As you might have heard, Pennsylvania faces a budget deficit of $2.3 billion.
Gov. Ed Rendell's proposed 2009-10 budget could eliminate as many as 2,600 jobs from the state payroll. Numerous programs are facing elimination or crippling funding cuts, and several tax increases -- including a hike on cigarette levies -- appear likely.
Searching for a solution to that myriad of problems, lawmakers rolled up their sleeves and went to work.
In a matter of hours, they crafted a resolution lauding the Steelers' Super Bowl victory last Sunday that would have made the folks at NFL Films proud.
This was no brief salute to the six-time Super Bowl champs, no quick tip of the General Assembly's hat to the team's thrilling last-minute win over the Arizona Cardinals.
This was a four-page narrative that could serve as a script for the Steelers highlights DVD. Not only were key Super Bowl highlights and statistics mentioned; so was every current Steelers player, coach Mike Tomlin, former coaches Bill Cowher and Chuck Noll, owner Dan Rooney and founder Art Rooney.
The bill even referenced Myron Cope, although the legendary Steelers broadcaster had little to do with the team's win. He died nearly a year ago.
Lawmakers didn't rest on their laurels after crafting such a detailed bill designed to combat the state's worsening financial crisis. Going full-throttle, they proposed several other measures that should have enormous impact:
? Clarifying mass confusion over when Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday should be celebrated, Pennsylvania would officially recognize the former president's birthday on the day it falls ? Feb. 12.
? March 1 would be designated Saint David's Day across the state. That should help quell the nonexistent ire of Pennsylvania's small contingent of Welsh immigrants who haven't clamored for a day formally recognizing the patron saint of Wales.
? Pennsylvania would participate in the national "Random Acts of Kindness Week" that runs through Saturday. Showing they are unafraid to set an example, lawmakers have already performed such an act ? by giving a virtually unknown Welsh saint some long-overdue recognition.
No one could have expected such rapid ? yet carefully considered ? responses to the many ailments plaguing Pennsylvania. No longer can lawmakers be accused of concentrating on fiddle proficiency while an inferno consumes their constituents.
They're certainly outpacing the molasses, aren't they?