“Why?” My roommate asked me when I told her I was going to Harrisburg the next day to lobby on behalf of the Healthy Youth Act and Notice Home Act.
“Why? Because lobbying is what you do when you want government change?” was my uncommitted response.
The next day, sitting in from of my Representative, offering data and statistics about how much money is wasted on abstinence-only-until-marriage ($6.7 million) and the number of teen pregnancies that occur in the Commonwealth (about 19,000), I realized something: I have so much power right now. This man has so many people telling him about different issues everyday that he likely has no time to research any of the topics himself. He depends on advocates like me and those who joined me to tell him about these issues.
This is not even the first time I have lobbied! But for some reason, it is the first time the message was clear to me about how important each citizen is to lawmaking. The Framers drafted the Constitution to include this aspect of government. They ensured that the people had a voice in how law was created and that no branch of government could silence it. No matter what form of lobbying you employ (visiting legislators, writing letters or emails, or calling their offices), you are contributing to change.
My lobbying partner and I were able to secure an immediate co-sponsor for the Notice Home Act as well as full support for both bills from a second legislator. The words we spoke compelled them to help initiate a change that will benefit thousands of students in Pennsylvania and that is a powerful thought. If (when!) these two pieces of legislation get signed into law, I believe a little piece of me will be in that signature, as well has the numerous other advocates that lobbied that day.
So that night, when I finally got home after the four hour bus ride, I was able to answer my roommate why I lobby. Why I requested off work to travel 200 miles to spend 15 minutes talking with a man I have never met before. Why I called my sister and my dad to tell them to write letters to their legislators.
Because it’s my right. Because it’s my duty. Because it’s what this country is about. You can’t get any more patriotic than that!
Shannon in Pittsburgh
*Note: The PARSE Coalition’s March 31st Lobby Day was an enormous success.
There were a total of 45 actual visits and 135 additional offices received hand-delivered packets of information from lobby day participants.
Since the lobby day 13 legislators have signed on as co-sponsors to the Healthy Youth Act. (Brown, Haluska, Harkins, Manderino, Moul, Mundy, Parker, Roebuck, Ross, Sabatina, Santoni, Walko, Wheatley)
We have had 6 legislators sign on as co-sponsors of the Notice Home Act. (Manderino, McIlvaine-Smith, Ross, Sabatina, Shapiro, and Walko)