All Fowled Up

The trucking industry is infatuated with the poultry industry. Ever seen a left lane chicken train speed past you? Ever said “cluck cluck chicken truck” when there’s a rooster cruiser feathered in chicken lights nearby? Even police officers get winged at weigh stations, or “chicken coops”. As the nation rounds out the Thanksgiving weekend, it’s apparent the turkey has been left out of the bucket of chicken…except, in Illinois.

Only in Illinois can legislation be introduced which is so bizarre it leaves a person hungry to read more. There, between the stuffing and cranberry sauce of pay-to-play bills in the 100th General Assembly, is draft legislation giving turkeys more “rights” under the law.

Apparently, turkey farms (like Big Jim’s Turkeys & Dumplings) in Illinois have been suffering financial losses each year. As people have begun to celebrate “Friendsgiving” at other moments during the year, this has hurt the November turkey market.

Also, other holiday dishes (such as the Turducken) have inspired Illinoisans to share the poultry market with duck, chicken and other assorted birds. What was once a monopoly for the turkey farms has slowly been eroded to a point of financial crisis.

To add insult to injury, cash-strapped Cook County is attempting to plug their never-ceasing and expanding $200 billion budget hole with the “Turkey Tax”. Of course it’s killing sales, except at grocery stores along the collar county borders. Even though Cook County has waged an expensive battle claiming the health risks of tryptophan, the napping public is well aware this is only an attempt to gather more gravy.

The turkey farmers like Big Jim are outraged, and rightfully so. Their product has been the wishbone of Illinois meals for decades. Shifting preferences and greedy local politicians should not be able to diminish their profits. This is not what the Pilgrims imagined at that historic first dinner with the natives.

In response, the incredibly powerful turkey lobby in Springfield has introduced SB6253 which is designed to help revitalize the turkey market. Here is a synopsis:

1.   The Governor, at anytime, may declare an emergency turkey harvest, exempting farmers from all size and weight laws on state highways. Locals may follow suit, but are not required.

2.   Outside of an emergency declaration, IDOT and local authorities are required to issue free-range permits for oversize/overweight turkey trucks, as turkeys are now considered non-divisible loads.

3.   The Commercial Distribution Fee is waived for all trucks owned, leased or brokered by turkey farmers.

4.   Cook County, and any other unit of home rule government, are prohibited from introducing taxes specifically aimed at the turkey industry.

5.   The turkey will replace the Northern Cardinal as the Illinois state bird, and the governor annually will issue a proclamation as such.

6.   The Apple iOS and Google Droid mobile platforms operating within Illinois are required to promote turkey emojis and disable other poultry graphics during the month of November.

7.   Local fire departments are prohibited from disseminating literature, whether in written or electronic form, exposing the dangers of turkey fryers.

8. Elementary school teachers are required to have each child create hand-turkeys or risk cuts to their State funding.

While these regulations may seem like legislators are talking tough, rest assured they are probably only talking turkey. There’s really no other way to carve it up.

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