Lobby Day On Tuesday
Equality Virginia prepares for their largest political action event of the year next Tuesday, February 2. According to James Parrish of EV, the organization’s Lobby Day takes 100-200 people to the General Assembly each year. The number fluctuates depending on which issues are on the table.
One of the issues on the table next week is SB66, a bill that could bring equal opportunity for state employees into law.
Volunteers begin the morning with breakfast at the Library of Virginia to discuss the day’s schedule. EV splits volunteers into groups and schedules face time with state delegates and senators.
“Delegates and senators schedules can be very fluid and tight at the same time so they can change at the last minute,” Parrish said. “It’s rare to get ten minutes with a delegate.”
Volunteers share talking points about upcoming bills that will be voted on in the next couple of days. Some volunteers share stories. Parrish gives the example of a mother telling how a non-discrimination bill needs to be passed so her son can find a job in Virginia and doesn’t have to go to New York to find work.
“Most politicians are going to be more engaged in an issue if their constituents are engaged in that issue,” he says. “When they hear from people that voted them in, that’s when it catches their attention.”
With a 50 percent chance of seeing someone face-to-face, Parrish says it’s just important to visit a delegate’s aide because they help with legislative schedule.
During lunch, EV hosts a former Chief of Staff to the Governor of Virginia discussing support for the non-discrimination bill.
Afterward, EV sends everyone out again to track down appointments that were missed. Volunteers deliver information sheets to delegates that did not see anyone. According to Parrish, last year, EV visited over 80 percent of the offices and left information behind with all.
“With this election, there was a 20% turnover in delegates,” he says. “We have 20% of the delegates that haven’t seen EV or heard the message.”
This year, EV opens up a virtual Lobby Day where users who cannot make it to Richmond, choose how to contact legislators.
One of EV’s other programs on Tuesday includes delegates signing their a non-discrimination pledge for sexual orientation. Parrish says this is a pledge for their own employment process and reinforces that the legislators will not be discriminating in their own offices.
In the evening, EV hosts a legislative reception. Governor McDonnell has been invited in addition to state delegates and senators.
“It’s a chance to formally socialize. A lot of our best supporters really try to make that. So it’s a great chance to thank them.”
To register for any portion of Lobby Day, visit EV at http://www.equalityvirginia.org.
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