Lawmaker's bill would honor Arizona's dairy industry by making milk the "official state beverage."
Wyatt Earp may be spinning like a top in his grave.
Arizona lawmakers took the first steps Tuesday to make milk - milk! - the "official state beverage."
Without dissent, the House Government Committee approved the proposal by Rep. Frank Pratt. The Casa Grade Republican said it is designed to recognize the importance of the dairy industry in the state and, in particular, in Pinal County, where there are nearly 20 dairies.
According to Pratt, those dairies produce 450,000 gallons of milk a day. "It has a $5 billion impact," he said, making up more than half of what agriculture produces for the state.
Pratt said these aren't just farm jobs, with Abbott Laboratories dehydrating milk for baby formula.
HB2611, if it becomes law, would create Arizona's first "official" food. So far that designation has been reserved either for natural features, like the palo verde as the state tree or turquoise as the state gem, or animals like the Arizona ridgenose rattlesnake as the state reptile.
But with a list of farm groups in support, no lawmaker was willing to dissent.
Rep. Steve Montenegro, R-Litchfield Park, quipped that his West Valley residents should not mistake his vote in favor of HB2611 as an indication he likes cows more than horses.
Only Rep. Frank Antenori, R-Tucson, hinted at the historical questions such an official designation might raise.
"There's an old saying in Arizona, 'Whiskey's for drinkin', water's for fightin'," Antenori said, suggesting that the former "probably would be a more appropriate state drink."