hello-my-name-is-advocate-jpegFirst rule of advocacy, wear comfortable shoes to the Capitol. (If you’re sassy like me and enjoy high heels, DON’T.) You will walk up, at minimum, four flights of stairs to get to House of Representatives level, and five if you’re going to something for the Senate.

Rule number two, arrive at committee meetings early. They start on time and some bills move quickly. I’ve been to committee meetings that lasted only 15 minutes to over an hour and a half.

Ok, enough about the rules. What is it really like to devote yourself to advocacy? Here’s what my morning looks like Monday through Thursday (there are rarely meetings on Friday until the end of session).

The first thing I do is check the House and Senate Committee schedules and agendas. It took me a while to figure out that these can change up to 24 hours before the meetings. Thus, it’s wise to check every morning before you climb all those stairs at the Capitol only to realize the bill you are watching is no longer on the agenda, or the committee meeting has been rescheduled all together. There are over 650 bills affecting childhood well-being that OICA is tracking. Reading the agenda also helps me identify related bills that may not be on my radar. Committee agendas list the bill numbers, a short summary or description of each bill (although, sometimes this description is vague and you’ll need to do a little more digging), and the bill authors.

Next, I look at the floor agenda for both the House and Senate. The floor agenda will only have the bills that have passed through committee and now need a vote of the full House or full Senate.

The committee meetings and floor sessions are open to the public. Although the meetings are open to the public, the discussion is not. This is just an opportunity to watch the proceedings. Afterwards, feel free to talk with the legislators and give them your input- especially your own.

Legislators really do want to hear from their constituents. I heard someone say, “When you go to speak to your legislator, assume they are on your side.” Most legislators are there to write good legislation and affect positive change in our state. No matter the side of the aisle you belong, they want to see your face and hear what’s important to you.

We’re all in this together! If you find yourself at the Capitol this week or would like to visit a committee meeting or a floor session, feel free to text me, and we’ll make it happen! 405-532-3944

Here are links to find the meeting agendas mentioned above.

House Committee Agendas http://okhouse.gov/Committees/MeetingNotices.aspx

Senate Committee Agendas http://www.oksenate.gov/Committees/meetingnotices.aspx

House Floor Agenda http://okhouse.gov/FloorAgenda/Default.aspx

Senate Floor Agenda http://www.oksenate.gov/schedule/agenda.aspx

 

me2Lani Habrock is the director of KIDS COUNT at the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy.

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