This year I was selected
to be a part of the Legislative Action Team (LAT) for the council, based on participating in the WEA-PAC
meetings and my interest in politics. The LAT team is there to go to Olympia and talk with the legislators from our area, and they were thrilled when they found out that I live in the 7th legislative district, because they’re not known as being the easiest guys to lobby about education. We went over two Wednesdays ago for our first lobby day; some thoughts from the trip:
*As I was going through security they flagged my bag; I had forgotten the new rule about the toothpaste tubes having to be 3.4 ounces or smaller, so my brand new tube of Crest ended up in the garbage. It had to, or the terrorists would have won.
*Drowned my sorrows with a $6 rum and coke from the airport bar while we waited for the plane to load. Looking back, I’m pissed at myself for spending $6 on a mixed drink.
*The flight over to Sea-Tac was good. We ate dinner at an Asian restaurant in Federal Way, then made our way down to the Governor Hotel
in Olympia. I wandered down the street to buy newspapers and crashed for the night.
*Up bright and early the next morning. Planning time with all the other LAT members to hear again what the priorities for the session are (compensation, class size), and then we were sent forth to do good.
*There’s one fat-ass teacher in this world who’s really let himself go, because the walk up the hill from the hotel to the capital building had me winded.
*Growing up in Rochester, and being so close to Olympia all my life, I didn’t really appreciate just how beautiful and incredible the capitol is. When you go inside you’re amazed all over again. What a great building!
*Our first stop was the Senate hearing building to hear testimony on SB6376
. Just as I signed in the porter closed the door and sent us down the hall to an overflow room where we could listen to the hearing over the loudspeaker. My name was read into the record as being in favor of the bill, so now I’m an insider.
*After that we were kind of looking around at each other, because the first lobby appointment anyone in the group had wasn’t until 12:15, and our piece of the Senate hearing from above was over by 8:20. We decided to go and scope our where our appointments would be, so it was off to the John L. O’Brien (JLOB) building.
*There’s Representative Sump’s office. There’s Representative Kretz’s office. There’s the House Republican Caucus staffers office, which matters for reasons I’ll get into later. Huh. Here we are.
*So we consult our handy legislative guide and see that Senator Morton’s office is “INB 115.” That certainly has to be the Insurance Building, so across the campus we go.
*Thank you, Mario, but our princess is in another castle! INB stands for Irving Newhouse Building, but instead of going over there we decided to head back to the Capitol Building and stop in on our friend Chris Marr. He was in committee, and his aide was visiting with a group of high school kids lobbying about recess, so we hung out and checked out the pictures on the wall until she was done.
*Back to the JLOB. The others in my party go to check in with Representative Ahearn; I step in to the aforementioned staffer office to meet with a friend who has a great handle on school policy here in Washington State. We chatted for a bit, then he was nice enough to walk me over to the Capital.
“I’m sort of persona non gratis with the WEA, you know,” he tells me, “because of the WEA-PAC lawsuit.”
“Hey, you’re aces with me!” I say, and then I get back with my group.
“Who was that? Wait…I know who that was. Where do you know him from?”
I felt rather like Alex Rodriguez when he came back to Seattle the first time.
*We waited outside the Senate chamber for a bit, then we actually got to go out onto the Senate floor (not the main part, mind you—the side, under the balcony) and talk with Senator Marr. He’s a great guy with a really keen mind for the issues; I’m happy to have been able to work with him the last year or so. I’m so new at this that being that close to the floor was still a heck of a thrill.
*Lunch break. I went over to Senator Morton’s office and left a note for him about SB6199
, which would have mandated that mail-in ballots be postage paid. Sadly, Senator Morton’s aide told me that he was withdrawing the bill because the county election officers were worried about how to pay for it. That’s a shame—I really liked that idea.
*My continuing mission to find a copy of OSPI’s budget and a list of the people they have personal service contracts with hit an annoying snag when I realized that the OSPI building was one block over from my hotel, and that I could have gone over there first thing in the morning. Next visit, then.
*As I’m getting in an elevator I notice some yahoo standing in the hall with a 10-gallon cowboy hat. “Look at that guy!” I think to myself, until I look closer and realize it’s my cousin, who’s the lead lobbyist for the Cattlemen’s Association. Hi, Jack!
*1:00 has come, and it’s time for me to sit down with Representative Kretz. Showtime. This is the big one. The very fate of the public schools depends on what I say right now. No pressure.
*Truly, no pressure. Rep. Kretz is a very nice guy who asked a ton of questions about our proposals. He’s also great on farm issues, and as the husband of a dairy farmer that gave us a good connection. He talked about how being fiscally conservative meant that he often had to vote against bills that he liked because of their cost, and I appreciate that viewpoint as well. I look forward to seeing him again in the future.
*And that was that. I wasn’t able to get together with Senator Morton or Representative Sump, but I did have meetings with Senator Marr and Representative Kretz, along with the lead policy analyst for the House Republican Caucus. It felt really good to participate in the process on that level, and I look forward to doing it again.
*The day was beautiful. I’ve got a super picture on my cell phone of the Capitol with a crystal blue sky behind it. The temperature was in the upper thirties or low forties, which felt like spring to someone from Spokane. The flight back was similarly gorgeous. Just a great day to be alive.
And that’s my lobbying report.
Labels: Kretz, lobbying, Olympia, WEA
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