LWVPBC Lobbies in Tallahassee

By Carol Stender

March 28-29, 2017 was the Legislative Summit for the League of Women Voters of Florida. Fifteen members of the Palm Beach County League traveled to Tallahassee for two days of learning and lobbying.

Our time at the Summit gave us opportunities to explore the Capitol, to sit in on committee meetings, to meet with our legislators, to track the bills, and even to attend a press conference.

A few attendees from left to right, top row: Mindy Koch, Keeter Martinsen, Debra Chandler
Bottom row: Christene Campbell-Gabor, Karen Wilkerson

Traveling to Tallahassee, a lovely city of hills and trees in the northwest corner of the state, provided time for sharing and bonding. Once decamped in our rooms at the Four Points by Sheraton hotel, LWVF lobbyist Kelly Quintaro reviewed the bills the League is following. Kelly and LWVF President Pam Goodman demonstrated how the bills were working their way through the houses–or had already died.

After a bit of valuable lobbying training, the PBC delegation met and received guiding instructions from our President Karen Wilkerson. Appointments to meet with our PBC legislators had been set ahead of time, so we were all eager to get into action the next day.

Early Wednesday morning, senior legislators, and other officials, briefed our delegation in the Senate Chambers of the Historic Capitol. Time was then available to sit in on a House committee meeting, grab a bite to eat in the Capitol Cafe, and feel our way around the maze-like government buildings.

At noon, we attended the LWVF press conference on the steps of the Historic Capitol. LWVF President Pam Goodman, along with spokespersons from four other organizations, expressed dismay at the lack of transparency on the part of the Constitution Revision Commission. The press video cameras were lined up in front of our group of almost 200.

Wednesday afternoon was spent lobbying with elected officials. League members met with legislators primarily in small groups of two or three. We explained briefly our positions and discussed the issues.  Although some representatives were stuck in committee meetings, and all were extremely busy, the overall tone of each small interview proved positive and upbeat.

The Summit wrapped up at a gala back at the Historic Capitol building. A number of Florida’s freshman legislators addressed the League. “Making Democracy Work” awards were given out. And the Summit was complete.

If you have never witnessed a legislative session, you really should try to attend the League’s Legislative Summit at least once. It is the best civics lesson possible. You will be amazed and inspired. The complexity, the dedication, and the sheer hard work of our legislature–and our absolutely terrific PBC delegation–is a wonder to behold.