My Trip to Augusta by Mindy Beyer
About a week ago I had the pleasure of joining Becky Smith our Government Relations Director in Augusta. Before my trip, I really didn't know what to expect. I had been to the state house before. I had also talked to legislators before, but for some reason this trip seemed like it was going to be different—and it was!
I think that some of the reasons that this trip was different was due to the fact that I got to see Becky in her day-to-day role when she is at the state house.
The day started like most everyone's day does—with a cup of coffee. Once we were sufficiently caffeinated, we went up to the state house library to stow our belongings as we did our work. It was in the library that I first felt the sense of excitement, it felt like a high school study hall where the "cool kids" were conversing and planning strategies to advance their cause. Now, please don't get ruffled feathers that I just compared the work of important lobbyists and advocates to high school students but to me I felt a real ownership to the cause, an ownership that had the same determination and innocence I had when was young and didn't have the stresses of everyday adulthood.
Once our belongings were in place, we made our way to the hallway in front of the House Chambers where we waited for my Representative so I could voice my opinion on how she should vote for an American Heart Association priority bill, LD1719, which funds important tobacco and obesity initiatives with tobacco settlement funds.
One thing that I have learned from my time on the American Heart Association Advocacy Committee is that my voice matters. If you take one thing from this blog post please let it be that Your Voice Matters!!
During my day in Augusta, I was able to speak face-to-face with both my Representative and my Senator. After the LD1719 vote I looked at the way the Representatives and Senators who I spoke to voted. My Representative did not vote the way I hope she would (which was not a surprise). However, another Representative who I spoke with (and had some valid reasons in our conversation as to why he might not vote in favor) DID!! My Senator also supported LD1719.
That is really the main reason I had an overall excitement about my trip to Augusta. Who knows—it might have been me talking to that Representative that convinced him vote the way he did.
My voice might have made the difference!
Going back to my high school analogy, like many high schoolers legislators want to please. They want to do what they believe is best for the majority of their voting constituents and they want to be popular. That is why we all need to make our voices heard. That is why you all need to know that although it is hard to understand how people that help run the great state of Maine need our help, they do. They work for us and they need to know what we as Mainers and American Heart Association volunteers want and need.
You don’t need to travel to Augusta like I did, you can use many different outlets: calls, letters, editorials or one of my personal favorites www.yourthecure.org. Please don't hesitate to get your voice heard. For more information on the advocacy work of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association please contact Becky Smith. Becky.Smith@Heart.org