There's a no man's land high along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains west of Washington where property taxes go unpaid and a lawman's authority is in doubt.

For more than a century, this 17-mile swath of oaks and mountain laurel has gone unclaimed by either Virginia or West Virginia.

"We don't know what state it's in," said state Del. Kenneth B. Rollins (R-Loudoun), who said the time has come to draw the line between his county and neighboring Jefferson County in West Virginia.

Rollins, a former mayor of Leesburg, has asked the Virginia General Assembly for $10,000 to establish a bistate commission to fix the boundary. "There should be a definite boundary between the states," he said.

Some of Rollins' colleagues have guffawed and some snickered, but it is only one of the dozens of bills amid more than 1,530 that have given the 140 lawmakers here a break from the weighty issues and mundane details that dominate their 60 days in Richmond.

In many cases, it is those bills that provide the most vivid glimpses of the diversity of the problems and the people in Virginia.

Del. Charles C. Lacy (D-Wythe), for example, wants to make it clear that state law doesn't bar livestock from grazing on rural roads that carry no more than 30 vehicles a day.

Urban dwellers aren't being ignored either this year. Arlington Democratic Del. Warren G. Stambaugh wants to keep street vendors at least 528 feet away from competing retail stores.

Why 528 feet?

"That's the most asked question of the session," replied Chris Zimmerman, Stambaugh's legislative aide. "It's roughly a tenth of a mile or about one city block; it's just an arbitrary figure."

Meanwhile, back to the slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Loudoun, or is it Jefferson County?

This battle goes back to Civil War days when the Mountain State split away from Virginia and began negotiating over the mountaintop boundary. West Virginia backed out, according to Virginians, and nobody gave a second thought to the border issue for the next 100 years.

Virginia set up another commission to set the boundary in the mid-1960s, but West Virginia didn't reciprocate. During that time, there was a murder up on one of the mountains and a Loudoun prosecutor was forced to work out a plea bargain after authorities were uncertain which state should prosecute the case.

"You don't really care about something like this until a problem arises," said Rollins.

Problems arose this year when Loudoun County began redrawing all of its maps and discovered a blank on the northeastern border.

What's a state to do -- but set up another boundary study commission. But not to be foiled by the neighbor state this time: Loudoun may get the study commission only if West Virginia will reciprocate. Moreover, the study will have to be inexpensive. The Virginia study appropriation already has been sliced to $2,000 from $10,000.

Other matters, ranging from the moribund to what some call the absurd, are churning their way through the Virginia legislature.

Del. Alson H. Smith Jr. (D-Winchester) has proposed a 24-hour waiting period at a morgue before a body can be cremated. The idea behind the bill is to give survivors more time to decide whether the deceased should be cremated.

Del. James H. Dillard II (R-Fairfax) introduced his "little body bill," a measure intended to bar companies that transport human bodies from conducting funerals without a funeral license. That proposal stemmed from an incident in which a corpse was discovered in a station wagon outside Springfield Mall while the body haulers lunched nearby.

For the living, Del. Joseph P. Crouch (R-Lynchburg) has suggested a "Society of Virginia Gentlemen" exclusively for native Virginia gentle ladies and gentlemen. The requirements for membership would include "dignity, grace, culture and kindness . . . the virtues of character for which all worthy Virginians stand."