Saturday, March 21, 2009

Chaos and Sadness

If you haven't already figured it out, the end of a legislative session is absolute chaos for everyone.

My last report was Thursday. We were waiting to be heard in Senate Judiciary. Expecting to go back to Santa Fe on Friday.

I went back on Friday morning, bright and early. SJC was supposed to meet at 9 am. For one reason or another they could not manage to come up with a quorum for the morning meeting. Then they were all called to the Senate floor, at which point I went to Rep. Gardner's office to wait it out. I was told they might meet again if they got a recess. I don't know if they ever did meet again. 

Around 1 p.m. Rep. Gardner came to me and said it was unlikely to get out of SJC. Sen. McSorley didn't want to put it on a consent calendar. The committee was unlikely to meet again or actually get anything done if they did. More political tit-for-tat going on. There was a chance, a very slim chance, that we could get it withdrawn from the committee to the senate floor. It was time for me to go home. There was nothing more I could do; it was all up to Rep. Gardner.

So I went home . . . in tears. We didn't quite let go of all of our hope, but the bill looked all but dead. Rep. Gardner, a bit later in the day, said he was still working on it and that he would work on it until the very end. I know they went late in the night.

This morning I contacted him expecting to hear that nothing had changed. Instead he wrote back that he had gotten it out of SJC (it was withdrawn) and that it was on the Senate floor. It would take a miracle to get it heard, but if it were heard it would be the last item heard before the end of the session.

Thanks to the wonder of technology, we were able to listen to the Senate when they did NOT hear our bill, but instead closed the session without hearing it. (Though if you listened carefully, you could hear someone call out "what about Gardner's bill?" right as they were discussing whether to adjourn. And really they had the few minutes that it would have taken to hear it, someone just pushed for the close instead.)

So I'm sad and sorry to report that we failed again this year. Petty politics got in the way again, but in a different arena this time--the Senate instead of the Governor's office.

We are not going anywhere though! We will be back. Our hope is to get it in next year, but that is tricky. As you may know, sessions in even-numbered years are short. 30 days short. On top of that, bills have to be "germane," meaning they have to be important in the state budget. The only other way to get heard in a short session is to have a message from the governor. I am going to ask Rep. Gardner if calls from citizens can help get a message for the short session. If you can call the governor's office and help with this effort, I will let you know.

Thank you all for your efforts. And a huge thank you to Rep. Keith Gardner; we could not ask for a more dedicated or hard-working sponsor. We'll get it done next time!

No comments: