14 Feb Blog: My Day As A Citizen Lobbyist
By Renitta Shannon, pictured here (left) with GA State Representative Karla Drenner
My first 9to5 Lobby Day at the Capitol was a fascinating and informative day. First we met for a grassroots lobby training, hosted by the ACLU. This was especially informative for me. Having lived in Georgia only two years, the legislative synopsis gave me a great understanding of the cultural and legislative climate of Georgia. Next, leaders from 9to5 and the ACLU gave us a short training on how to speak to legislators about the Family Care Act. This bill would allow employees to use their already accrued sick days to care for family members. The bill has been voted out of House Committee so it was critical that we speak face to face with legislators to ensure THEIR vote on the House floor. After the training we took a group picture and then entered the Capitol.
That’s when the excitement began!
Once inside the Capitol we saw about 500 other individuals in front of the doors of the House and Senate floor, behind a long red rope, waiting to access their legislators. We filled out our access cards and waited to speak to our legislators. Then out poured the legislators one by one, looking for constituents who had requested to speak to them.
Both of my legislators literally came out smiling and ready to listen! I didn’t realize just how easy it would be to speak with elected officials. There was absolutely nothing intimidating about the process or the conversations. Within an hour I had personally spoken to my House and Senate representatives, and gained commitments from both to vote in favor of the Family Care Act. Both were extremely personable and genuinely thanked me for taking time to come to the Capitol to speak to them. These impromptu meetings allow you to see up close and personal who your district has elected, and their demeanor when not executing a planned meeting, because they literally have no idea what you are there to talk about.
My Senator is running for Governor this year, so it was a real treat to meet him before he begins his race! All in all this was a fantastic day lobbying with 9to5. I would encourage anyone to come out for future lobby days. 9to5 helped all of us new citizen lobbyists step-by-step in the process and made the day both exciting and enjoyable!
Couldn’t make it down for 9to5’s Lobby Day at the Capitol but still want to make a difference? Call your Representatives TODAY and tell them to vote “Yes” on the Family Care Act!