The Texas Legislature spends its days debating issues both large and controversial and small and benign. Here is an example of the latter: a House panel has approved a measure to designate three official hashtags for the state, which would be the first official hashtags voted on by a legislature anywhere in the U.S.
The House Culture, Recreation and Tourism Committee voted unanimously to pass a measure by state Rep. Kenneth Sheets, R-Dallas, that would designate #txlege as the official hashtag — a label used to categorize social media posts — of the Texas Legislature. The label is already widely used on Twitter by state lawmakers, reporters and citizens watching proceedings in the Capitol.
Sheets used “Twitter language” to describe his measure, House Continuing Resolution 104, to the committee, referring to the bill as #HCR104 and addressing members by their Twitter account names.
“Hashtag thank you, Chairman ‘at’ Ryan Guillen,” he told committee Chairman Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City, as he took the podium. That translates on Twitter to “#thankyou, Chairman @RyanGuillen.”
In addition to claiming #txlege in an official capacity—as opposed to the unofficial capacity that the tag currently enjoys, with nearly one hundred tweets per hour—the panel agreed to consider taking #TexasToDo, the more slimly used tag favored by Texas tourism, as well as just plain ol’ #Texas to talk about the state.
Now, none of this actually means anything: people on Twitter can tweet with whatever hashtags they like, and the state choosing to formalize its affection for #Texas, #TexasToDo, and #txlege doesn’t give Texas any authority over those hashtags. But it does seem somehow validating for Texas to offer some recognition for #txlege, at the very least.
Still, if Texas is getting in the hashtag game, it’s hard to understand why the panel stopped at three. There’s no shortage of other social media slogans, events, institutions, and causes that deserve to be sanctioned by the state. Might we suggest claiming the annual tradition of #PoopingOnBlueBonnets? Or perhaps the all-important causes of #ChiliWithBeansIsSoup, #DrPepperHasNoPeriod, or—if they want to keep it political—#BunBForMayor?
If you think about it, the fact that #TexasToDo is under consideration before #DontMessWithTexas and #WasntBornHereButIGotHereAsFastAsICould is kind of strange. Those are institutions, while #TexasToDo is some awkward phrasing for a notice of potential activities. Similarly, we could happily claim some Texas-isms like #FixinTa and #DontCottonToThat—and is there a good reason why, if the state is just declaring hashtags official, they wouldn’t offer some sanctioning of #TexasMonthly?
This is definitely one of the least pressing #issues facing the #txlege today, but if they’re going to spend time considering #hashtags, then we have a few #suggestions they should #keepinmind.