YFT Editorial:Southbound to Austin! (Part 2)
As much fun as all the mayhem that we commenced in Austin, the information that I need to share the most is the training provided by Equality Texas.
During the training, the people of Equality Texas introduced themselves and presented the schedule that they would like for us to adhere to.
They went over some general facts about legislature. Texas has 150 representatives – seventy-six Republicans and seventy-four Democrats. We also have thirty-one senators – nineteen Republicans and twelve Democrats. Both houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives, are in session for five months from January to May every odd year.
That is when they have a hearing to vote something out of committee. That is why it is important that we’re there to get these bills passed, and we, as constituents, have some power in this.
Bills go through a process in order for them to pass and become a law. First of all, a bill would be introduced into a house. A committee would then be called for a hearing, and there would be some floor actions and voting going on to see if it would pass. If it is in favor, then it would go to the other house and go through this same process. When the bill succeeds in both houses without amendments or changes to the original bill, then it will go to the governor of a state. Most bills would usually mature into a law on the first of January of the following year. If there are changes to the bill before it reached the governor then it has to return to the original house for reevaluation. Bills may also actually just die but there is a trick to this. It can be worked back in but as an amendment.
An important thing to consider is not to think of this process as something that is certain or beyond reach from us. Lobbying is a means for the public to make contact and apply pressure on the policymakers. Remember that the public has power over them as constituent advocates and through electoral actions.
The first thing public officials will notice is the lobbyist’s professionalism and proactive desire to take the initiative. We are here to make a presence. We need them (for governing) just as much as they need us (to keep them in office, mostly) so they will respect us for being there. They want to use their leadership to serve us so we are important to them and they want to hear from us. Tell them your story; tell them how discrimination impacts your life and the lives of others.
The rules of engagement are to be respectful, be positive, and in the case that the situation escalates into a debate – agree to disagree. We should know our target audience and personalize our objectives thusly in addition to relating our stories to these issues [SEE my other article on the issues]. Remember to thank them at the end, and ultimately have fun!
Our nation is unique because of many distinct qualities and amongst those qualities is our diversity. Although our differences is what makes it so beautiful, we need to focus on how essentially the same we are or inclusiveness – the cohesive force that keeps us all together and make this work!
Start off by finding some common values with the officials such as safer schools and the championing of the United States of America’s three core values: liberty, equality, and self government.
Tell them that discrimination is wrong, that equality is right, and that their decisions will have an effect on your life. Remember, though, that positive, reinforcing stories are just as effective for their continuing support.
That is all, folks in terms of educational content. I’m sure there were others but I forgot to jot some notes. Until next time! I love y’all!