27 April, 2009

A Day on the Hill

Not a bad day at the Capitol today. Difficult to get a sizable student turnout at the end of a semester, but our side was well represented. The Senate committee had just started discussing the bill we oppose, SB1164, when they had to recess for the regular Senate session. That gave us time to lobby Senate offices before the committee reconvened.

Actually spoke to a legislator, one of the authors of the bill, Sen. Estes, who took time to hear my opposing arguments and was quite gracious, thanking me for bothering to come out and be a part of the process. A few of us had the chance to give testimony to the committee, which was interesting. I did have to gently scold Sen. Wentworth, sitting beside me when I gave testimony, for making assumptions about those opposed to his bill. I asked him to please hear us out since we'd taken the time to listen to him. I think he was a bit taken aback. I even took time to have a civil conversation with two of those testifying in support of the bill. We were readily able to agree that though we disagreed we all need to remember how to treat each other with respect.

The best part was that today was lobby day for members of the Texas branch of the National Association of Social Workers, so there were social workers all over the Capitol dressed in turquoise. I introduced myself to a few as a social work student and they sprang into action, as social workers do, and rounded up the majority of their group in the rotunda. So there I was shouting marching orders to maybe a hundred people about what to lobby against (concealed weapons on campus) and what to lobby for (closing the mental health loophole in gun licensing). I even got a round of applause.

So, we'll keep on with our little grassroots lobbying and consciousness raising effort.
Again, if you're in Texas and don't think concealed weapons have a place in classrooms, contact your Representative (NO on HB1893!) and Senator (NO on SB 1164!). Please, no guns on our campuses.

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