Thursday, February 20, 2014

Lobbying in Library Land

Cross posted at christinesturgeon.wordpress.com/
A week ago, I headed to the State Capitol for STEM Day.
I was told that festivities started at 10, but I knew parking would be a beast (I detest parallel parking), so I got there early.  I checked in with the STEM folks, then met up with Craig Patterson, ILA's lobbyist.  I'm IASL President, and we're very concerned about a bill in committee.  I'd been trying to keep IASL members up-to-speed on the sausage making that is the State Capitol, so figured I'd take this opportunity to see it for myself.
A little background:  last year, HF472 became law.  It was ostensibly about efficiency, and it gave schools financial incentive to share certain positions, including school counselors, nurses, and teacher librarians.  Crazy, right? The law was immensely popular.  The state budgeted $15 million and it cost over $60 million.  Go figure!


really

One of our executive board members, Becky Johnson, let our lobbyists know that we needed to know when bills came up about teacher librarians, because our members will take action.  So on Thursday, after I met with Craig, I met two Senators' clerks and met with my own Senator, Daryl Beall before I headed down to the STEM meeting.
So the next day, I emailed IASL and ILA members and asked them to contact the Senators on the Education Committee over the weekend, because the subcommittee was meeting on Monday afternoon.  The House Education committee had already passed a bill changing HF472 by taking teacher librarians, guidance counselors, and school nurses out of the list of positions eligible for incentive dollars from the state, but the Senate version kept the list intact.  It fixed the money problems instead by changing the math (in a way I don't understand so I won't try to explain). 

And email they did!  Monday afternoon, I got a message from Senator Beall:
Good news, Christine! I just attended the subcommittee on SSB3150 and the Mathis amendment was included that strikes school nurses, counselors and librarians from the language. That’s a major victory for you and your colleagues. It now moves to the full Education Committee as amended. Just wanted to let you know, my friend. Your association’s grassroots efforts, contacting individual legislators, were very effective. Thanks, Christine. Please keep in touch. Daryl
And so I tweeted this:
You know, I should have done some clever gif, but I was in too much of a hurry.  How about this? 
elf_joy 
That's exactly how I felt.



 I've gotten a lot of congratulatory emails after I told the librarians the great news, but truly, all I did was send out some emails.  They did the work! It's not a done deal, of course - this was just the subcommittee - but now the House and Senate version are much closer and I'm told it's quite unlikely we will be put back in.  And obviously, schools can still share librarians, but why should the state encourage them to do so?  I'm so happy that guidance counselors and nurses are off the list too, because none of us are operational functions.  We are essential to the mental, physical, and educational well-being of our schools and our students. 

So in a couple of weeks, I'll be headed down to Des Moines again.  Won't you come, too?

invite