My activism days paid off recently when I went to the state Capitol and had a blast! Our state legislative session was supposed to end on May 22 at midnight, but they didn't get everything done and had to go long. So one evening I went to observe, hoping to meet with some others who were driving separately.
When I got there, both the House and the Senate were in recess, and no one knew when they would be called back in. Many people were just walking around the capitol, looking at loose ends (lobbyists and other visitors). I wandered around and didn't find my friends, so decided to sit in the House Gallery and wait for them to come back to work. After a while a Representative that I recognized (Rep. Hansen) walked by. I asked him a quick question, and he invited me to go observe a committee meeting with him.
It was a tax bill discussion, not exactly my cup of tea, so I was a little bored, but suddenly in burst a group of protestors. They chanted loudly, marched in with their signs, and read a statement, until security came and ushered them away.
The tax meeting only lasted a few more minutes, so then we went looking for anything else to observe... we ran into the mayor from the city where my daughter lives. Talked with her for a while, then ran into the mayor from the city that Rep. Hansen lives in. He joined us, along with one other constituent, so the four of us were looking for some action. We went outside with our flashlights to "look for some good legislation."
Didn't find any (haha), so we went back inside and then bumped into this crowd. What was happening? The majority leader was holding an impromptu press conference.
That was interesting (even though I couldn't hear what they were saying). Then, Rep. Hansen decided to see if he could get us into the recess room. It's kind of famous around here, because a comment was made during a debate one time about the "100% white male" group playing cards in the recess room while women of color were giving impassioned speeches and thereby being ignored. There was quite a flap about that by certain individuals. Anyway, we waltzed into the recess room, so I got to see the famous room. And in there was another Rep. of whom I am a big fan. (She is one of the women who had been making a good speech and being ignored by the card-playing fools.) Oops. Did I really say that? Anyway, I was excited to meet her, and get my picture taken with her.
After all this observation of democracy in action and meeting some "famous" people, I was totally excited and star-struck. I hit the jackpot with my visit that night, even though I never got to watch either house discussing bills. They were going to reconvene but not for another hour, and it was already late, so I went home and watched it on TV.
What a fun and funny night I had! The session did finally end 3-4 days after it was supposed to, but the governor is still debating about whether to sign or veto some of the bills they sent him... like we were doing with our flashlights, the governor, too, was hoping for something better which is why he has to weigh his response. (And a veto would mean another special session.. my opinion is.. veto them. The bills have some bad stuff in them.)
I never knew I'd be so interested in and excited about politics until this year when I turned into an activist. Who would have dreamed this? I've learned a lot and had fun doing so.