Wednesday, June 17, 2015
These people work for us right?!
I am embarrassed to say that before SB277 I knew almost nothing about politics or how our government works. Now that I have found myself at the forefront in the fight against SB277 I am even more embarrassed than I ever thought possible that this is the way our government is run. I mean, like REALLY embarrassed. I have seen things that have made me want to cry, scream, laugh out of absurdity and legit begin to question how in the world it is possible that these people work for us?!
I did not really get my teeth into the SB277 fight until shortly before the Senate Education committee hearing. So lets start there shall we? I attended the Education hearing with my red shirt and sign in tow, I sat in one of the over flow rooms and watched the beginning testimony with all the others there in opposition to this hideous bill. We watched lie after lie after lie come out of "Dr" Pans mouth. Some of us laughed, shook our heads and mostly we tried to control our anger, after the lies were over it was our turn to go stand in line to state our opposition. Well over 1,000 people stood in line (a line that wrapped through the entire Capitol building, although the news reported there was only a few hundred in opposition) to have our 30 seconds at the microphone and state our opposition to this bill. After almost 2 hours the opposition was finished and I sat down on a bench outside and watched the live feed of the hearing from my phone. What I watched was the members of the Education committee GRILL Pan on the flaws in the bill: No public health crisis, already at "Herd Immunity," segregation of students, denying access to public education, how this effects single families and on and on and on. As I sat there I couldn't believe what I was hearing and seeing; SB277 was about to die in Education! Well, we all know what happened next. Senator Lui the Chair of the Committee told Pan he had 1 week to come back with better answers because if they took a vote right then the bill would die! WHAT?! I cant even....
Fast forward a week.... Pan comes back to Education with one measly (pun intended) amendment. The newest amendment would allow for homeschoolers to congregate with other homschoolers (something previously not allowed in the bill.) Then the strangest thing happened, with almost no questions from the committee, with not a single amendment to address the list of concerns they had that was long as my body the week before, the committee almost unanimously voted to pass the bill through. All of us were left scratching our heads....
I will leave out the Senate Judiciary Committee as well as the full Senate floor vote because if I have to discuss Hannah Beth Jackson my head might explode. However, we all know what happened there as well, SB277 got rocketed over to the Assembly to deal with.
So once SB277 made its way over to the assembly things got even weirder. One would think that because this bill would effect the access to education for 200k students that it would need to be heard in the education committee of the Assembly right? WRONG. SB277 was referred to a single committee the health committee with an overwhelming majority of Democrats sitting for the vote (Democrats seem to be the only ones voting for this stupid bill.) All the while it was a well known fact that the biggest chance to kill SB277 would have been to have it heard in Education. It has been reported that several members of the opposition had a meeting with Speaker of the Assembly Toni Atkins (the woman in charge of assigning to committees) and they were told that she had the ability to be heavy handed and refer the bill to Education but that it would likely have a devastating effect on her career as many of the Democrats are trying to push this through as fast and easy as possible. Again, WHAT?!
So on to Assembly Health Committee we go....
The day of the Assembly Health Committee THOUSANDS of people showed up to oppose SB277; however, again the press reported numbers in the hundreds. In fact, one of the Sergeants of Arms was reported to have said that in the 20 years he has worked at the Capitol he has NEVER seen that much opposition to a bill ever. The health committee was like watching a bad horror show. We saw Pan get up and stutter his way through the hard questions, Allen seemed to be citing law in all incorrect ways, Lorena Gonzales went on a rampage that was probably one of the most disrespectful things I have ever seen. At one point it is reported that a Tweet came from Miss Gonzales's account that was time stamped in the middle of the testimony... Was she Tweeting during testimony?! (It was also reported from the Assembly gallery this last Monday while watching them go over the budget it appeared that at least half of them were on their phones checking FB during that testimony, in fact an article came out in CBS that one member apparently voted wrong because he was distracted by playing on his phone during the vote.) To take it farther, at one point the camera shot over to where all the Assembly Members should have been sitting during the Health Committee yet there was only 4 chairs with people in them.... Did 3/4 of the Health Committee get up and go take a break in the middle of the opposition testimony?!
Then there was the questions that came from some of the members that seemed to be the most in opposition to this bill..... Waldron asked "How we could make parents sign a consent form taking all responsibility for our child after vaccination if we were going to mandate it? Shouldn't the state then be responsible?" Chavez (Chavez for President) asked Pan "How he could have voted yes on a bill 2 months ago that would allow hundreds of thousands of homeless children to enroll in school with out immunizations but then try to pass SB277 into law?" Chavez also asked while holding a press release from CDHP "Why he was trying to pass this law when CDHP says we have reached our goal on immunization rates?" Again, it all fell on deaf ears.... SB277 passed health with a 12-6 vote and one abstention.
So off to the Assembly floor we go.....
Again, I have to ask.... These people work for us?! In my own experience walking the halls of the Capitol day in and day out trying to speak with the Assembly Members what I have found is an overwhelming annoyance of my presence. Ok, maybe I am annoying but isn't that their job, to deal with annoying citizens that have concerns? I personally have been hung up on by numerous staffers, been looked at like a parasite, tried to get appointments to speak with these people all to no avail. Actually, while walking the halls on Monday delivering documents to various Assembly Members I approached my Senator Dr Pan in the elevator about my concerns. I was swiftly brushed off and dismissed, while I continued to walk down the hall trying to ask him what I should do he brushed me off and shut his office door in my face while I was mid sentence. There have been reports in numerous SB277 groups of constituents being hung up on, Assembly Members refusing to meet with them, being blocked on FB and Twitter for voicing polite and legitimate concerns with their representatives. Isn't that their job? To speak with their constituents about their concerns? It has also been reported that while opposition has been speaking the to their assembly members that they have been told things like "Maybe you can work something out on the side with your school." "I haven't taken a stance yet because I haven't even seen the bill" <---- Even thought they are supposed to be going on the 3rd reading of SB277 and it is scheduled to be voted on tomorrow. "I will make my decision once it comes to me on the Assembly floor" <---- It is already on the floor, and don't you think with a bill this important that I don't know maybe they should be taking a vested interest before they make a willy nilly decision to segregate my child and strip my parental rights? It has also been reported that regardless of the fact that 95 percent of calls are in opposition to SB277 one Democratic Assembly Members was quoted as saying "This bill is bad but not a single Democrat will vote against it!"
No really, these people work for us right?!
I get it.... I really do. SB277 was expected to be quietly swept under the rug, that maybe we wouldn't notice and it would just go through. I get it their phones are ringing off the hook, they have people walking in dropping off letters all day and asking to actually speak with the person that is supposed to be representing them in their district. I get it we are annoying you guys.... But, when you mess with peoples children what do you think is going to happen? I mean, these people do work for us right?!