IFCL Recording Clerk
In the last days of the 2017 Indiana legislative session, I met with multiple legislators who were in various stages of being for or against a bill for student journalists that my colleagues and I had been promoting for months. The parting advice from a legislator after one of these meetings was, “Remember to keep your hands inside the ride during the last week of the session.”
I appreciated both the humor and the sympathy that spoke to my disappointment that the bill was on life support and losing ground by the hour. I like the metaphor of an amusement park ride because the legislative process is a rollercoaster experience. The student journalist bill had a series of big successes during its journey through the House with a unanimous education committee endorsement before passing the full House 88-4. The ride was still enjoyable through the Senate until amendments stopped it cold without a vote causing us to spend the last two weeks negotiating without success.
This was not my first attempt working for legislation, but it was the most time I had dedicated to such an effort, and I had forgotten how frustrating and intimidating the statehouse can be.
Fortunately, Dr. Bill Chapman, lobbyist for Indiana Friends Committee on Legislation, had already met with most of the legislators I needed to contact, so he provided valuable connections and insights that helped my group communicate our bill’s intent. It was especially nice that legislators liked Bill and were open to discussing issues he endorsed.
It is important to note that I was busy with just one piece of legislation and that Bill literally had reviewed the 1200+ bills proposed to help IFCL determine those that Quakers should support. It’s a daunting challenge for anyone, but in his first year as lobbyist he provided testimony and counsel for many topics and had legislators express their appreciation for a Quaker faith-based perspective.
That said, more support would be helpful. Not everyone has the opportunity or expertise to be at the Statehouse working on legislation every day, but we can all find ways to support Quaker concerns through interaction with the IFCL communication platforms, legislators, funding and events. Check out the numerous opportunities to attend IFCL sessions at Western Yearly Meeting July 27-30 and find your own way to work with IFCL as we try to make a positive difference for Indiana.