A visual manifestation of an amazing session
Thoughts from VPIRG’s Field Director, Liz Edsell
At the beginning of the 2014 legislative session, I created a “scoreboard” on a whiteboard. There were just too many darn bills we were working on and I needed a spot where I could keep track of our progress on all them.
For example, a single bill – the Toxic-Free Families Act (S.239) – moved through MORE THAN TEN different votes in committees or on the floor. Here’s roughly what the path of S.239 looked like…
Senate Health & Welfare → Senate Economic Development → Senate Finance → Senate Appropriations → Senate Floor (cross-over exemption) → Senate Floor → House Fish & Wildlife Committee → House Ways & Means → House Appropriations → House Floor → Senate Floor (motion to suspend rules) → Senate Floor (concur with House version).
I think I got them all! By the way, you can track a bill’s progress on the state’s legislative website. For example, here’s what you’ll see if you enter S.239 in the Read the Bill tool.
The progress we were able to make on this legislation to keep kids safe from toxics was truly remarkable. Our team was in each and every one of these committees. Every day. Our daily mission was to make sure we delivered the information, testimony, and grassroots support that legislators needed to decide they wanted to advance our bills.
As the session wrapped up, of the seven bills I tracked in the grid, we passed three bills into law (solar net metering expansion, GMO labeling, and Toxic-Free Families) and helped defeat three bills we deemed as setbacks to the public interest. That’s 6 of 7 victories! We’ll come back next year to pass that weatherization funding legislation!
The scoreboard has been a daily reminder of our success, so it’s been hard to bring myself to erase it (clearly…since I took me until August 1st to do it!) But as all those who work with me know, I’m a fan of my white boards and I need this one to chart our course to victory for the bills and campaigns underway and to come. The fun never ends!
If you’re interested in getting involved in our next adventures in organizing and advocacy, get in touch with me!
VPIRG Field Director