By Noni West
BCWAC Individual Partner
May 6th smiled on “those women from Bucks’ as we piled into our cars at 6:30 a. m. to make our way to Harrisburg for our Advocacy Day visit. Eleven of us gathered at four different locations to carpool.
We had received copious information from Nancy Morrill, Tam St. Claire and Carolyn Cowgill – talking points, three pages of bill legislation and status, appointment schedules, team details, maps and more.
Everyone pulled out folders, we studied, talked and used smart phones to access bills and clarify. We were ready.
The day was a breathtaking success. Legislators were welcoming, appointments well-paced, conversations for the most part positive and we moved legislators to action on some issues.
A REMARKABLE IMPACT
What was most remarkable about the day was our impact. When I tell others we were able to see every one of our Representatives and Senators in one day they are stunned. It is attributable to the persistent five-year effort the Coalition has waged in developing relationships with our state electeds. I also attribute it to the Coalition’s depth of understanding of the issues and the honesty with which we approach them. We are a trusted resource. Our legislators listen to us.
I have never participated in an advocacy trip so focused and successful.
The assembled advocates started in the Rotunda at 9:00 a.m. where we split into our four assigned teams. Each team had a leader and a newbie to the advocacy experience. We saw Representatives Clymer, Quinn, DiGirolamo, Petri, Watson, Farry, Santarsiero and O’Neill and Senators Tomlinson and Mensch all in the morning.
Lunch in the capital cafeteria was a needed break for all. Here I delighted in discovering the Amish blueberry Gob or whoopee pie. We also got to stargaze at the handsomely distinguished David Morse, St. Elsewhere, The Green Mile, Hack…, representing PA SAG-AFTRA who was being honored for creating more stringent protections for child performers who work in entertainment.
THREE MAJOR ISSUES
Starting at 1:30 p.m., we tackled our afternoon appointments with Representatives Galloway and Davis, Senator Greenleaf and we all ended the day in Senator Mcilhinney’s office. Our top three issues to discuss with the legislators were: supporting Medicaid Expansion, the PA Women’s Health Agenda (seven bills introduced so far), and addressing the Cliff Effect (also known in Rep. Reed’s new Poverty Report as the “Benefits Cliff”) that our Coalition has been building support to ameliorate for five years. We also talked about specific bills relating to nurse practitioners, human trafficking, raising the minimum wage, preschool education, and closing gun law loopholes.
All legislators were thanked for their efforts and made aware of the recent Reed report “Beyond Poverty.” Our four advocacy teams’ reports will be compiled by the BCWAC Legislative Committee for follow up.
Our team met with Representatives Davis and Santarsiero as well as Senators McIlhinney and Tomlinson. Each one of us will have vantage points, thoughts or opinions to add from other legislators. But I’m sure we all agree this day was important. We know more. They know more. We have more to do. They have more to do. We are talking.
Those women from Bucks are amazing.