Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Civics 10

One of the things that the teens I work with do is lobby the state legislature on bills concerning underage drinking. Usually we have a couple of weeks to prepare to visit, but Monday we didn't. We have been busy with other events and the bill that we are following this session had been sitting in the Rules Committee for a couple of weeks, and then last week was spring break for the Juneau school district. And on Friday of last week, suddenly the bill began to move. It was scheduled to be heard in Rules on Monday at 5 p.m., and after that it can move to the floor of the House very fast.

I spent the weekend trying to get in touch with the teens, many of whom were out of town and some of whom were up on the slopes taking advantage of 225 inches of snow and clear blue skies. Managed to talk to most of them by Sunday night, and to round up one kid who was able to come with me at noon. Spent the morning writing an opinion piece to hand out and getting ready for the class I am teaching this week for kids who have had a minor consuming conviction, and at noon the young man came to my office and we walked across the street and delivered the fact sheets. This student hadn't done any work with politicians before, so it was both exciting and frightening for him.

We went to the offices of all 40 of the Representatives. The first five, I talked and he listened. And then I began letting him start and just adding what he forgot or didn't know. Finally, I sat on a bench in the hall for the last two while he handled it himself. It was wonderful to watch him gain confidence as we went from office to office. This was a very minor, verybeginning lobbying effort. Deliver a fact sheet to a staff member and answer any questions about it. He was surprised to discover that most of the legislators hadn't heard of the bill yet, and to have their staffs tell us that the information we were giving was the only lobbying that had been done on it. And they were impressed by a 14 year old boy being serious about legislation.

All in all, a day to be pleased with and a boy to be proud of.


Deja Pseu said...

How cool! That's something he'll remember for the rest of his life.

Anvilcloud said...

What a great opportunity for that boy. I hope that it has an effect.