Guest writer: Kayla Batty (Dale’s Daughter)
This was my first opportunity to be on Capitol Hill fighting for a bill. To be honest, I’ve never been more horrified or concerned for the state of our government. The games that were played to keep this bill from being heard were ridiculous. The lies that were told to cover up these games, even worse. The fact that the Chairman of the Agricultural committee car-pools an hour to work and an hour home each day with the Commissioner of Agriculture (who opposes the bill) seems like a conflict of interest to me.
Twice the bill was placed on the agenda only moments before the cut-off line, in the hope that supporters would not be able to make the trek from the far-reaches of the state. On the day the bill was supposed to be heard, Representative Roberts was approached by a representative whose constituents were strong supporters of the bill. Rep Noel needed to head home for a memorial service. He was one of the required “yes” votes and had the ability to sway other members of the committee who might be on the fence. The following quote is from an email sent to me by Rep Marc Roberts regarding the Gong Show that took place that day.
“After much consideration I decided to go with what Noel was asking and pull the bill from the agenda. It was a tough decision especially knowing how many people were taking time out of their day to be there but at the end of the day it’s the votes that count.
“I notified Lee Perry, the committee chair, that I wanted to pull the bill from the agenda. He wasn’t very happy with it and said that he had a lot of people coming (which is another story to tell) but ultimately said ok. From there we were working under the assumption that he would pull the bill from the agenda, which happens all the time, and that we would hear it another day.”
We were already in Salt Lake and stayed for a press conference with Ms. America that had been arranged previously. After the press conference there were messages coming through to Rep. Roberts and others saying that the bill had been left on the agenda! Representative Noel said not to stress about it, since they wouldn’t vote on it without the sponsor of the bill there to present it. He said we would be able to get the bill back on the agenda later, and not to show up. He even said he would call the committee chair to explain it. One of the interns for a Representative who opposed the bill came in at one point, saw us all there, made a show of rolling his eyes before getting on his little smart phone and typing away on it. We never imagined that Rep. Perry would still hold a hearing on the bill and hold public comment without the sponsor being there, but that’s exactly what he did. That has never happened before, it’s possible to do, but is unprecedented.
Representative Perry began the hearing of the bill by verbally criticizing and abusing not just the bill but Rep Roberts. It was so bad that Rep Perry had to publicly apologize in the next meeting for what he had said in order to avoid official censure by the House leadership. Unfortunately the damage was already done. Many of the representatives were convinced of Rep. Roberts didn’t care enough about his bill to show up. This will be a new battle we have to face
The bill was eventually heard, by barely enough members of the committee for it to be sent to interment. This means it will be retained in committee and be studied it through the following year.
We have to keep at our representatives. They are there to represent us, not to choose what they feel is best. We must do to each of our representatives what Kanab did to there’s. They need to know, as Rep Noel did, that if they goes against the bills that we support, they will find their political careers ended shorter than perhaps they hoped. Don’t let them follow their own agendas. They are there to represent us; that is the standard we must hold them to. If we want our bills to pass, we need them to know where the thoughts and feelings of the majority lie.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t know many people in our conservative state who would choose to have extra government involvement in our every-day decisions.