LAKE CHAMPLAIN GETS ITS COMEUPPANCE
For those of you who have been losing sleep over the issue, we can report that Lake Champlain has been sent back to the minor leagues and has lost its Great Lakes designation. It will, however, claim some of the research money which is meant to address Great Lakes problems. Allegedly, the money will be confined to issues which Lake Champlain has in common with the Great Lakes, such as Zebra Mussels.
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Generations of school children have learned the names of the Great Lakes by remembering the acronym "HOMES" for Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior. Now, because of an unnoticed change in the definition portion of the National Sea Grant College Program Reauthorization Act of 1998, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) has added Lake Champlain as a Great Lake. The purpose of this addition is to make Vermont colleges eligible for grants to study various problems that occur in the Great Lakes.
Whether or not it is desirable to spread the grants among colleges other than those in Great Lake States, this change is a sign of one of the major problems which plague legislation in Congress. While we can be certain that Senator Leahy knew about this change when the bill went back to the House of Representatives from the Senate, it appears that he might be the only one. Most of the legislation which is passed is not read by most of the people who vote on it. Only later, after the bill is law (and this one was signed into law by President Clinton after the deception was discovered) do these little quirks appear.
On February 25, 1998, Fred Upton introduced an amendment to the Sea Grant Act to strike Lake Champlain as a Great Lake. This bill (HR3260) has been cosponsored by most of the Great Lake States representatives including Jim Barcia. If this bill does pass, Lake Champlain will rejoin the ranks of "Lakes that are not Great," but the problem of unread legislation will continue.
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