We have a winner in the House!
So I experienced my first vote in a chamber this week. HB 86 that you know passed committee last week (if you read my blog…) went to the House floor for a vote on Wednesday. Last week I shared that the bill went to the Rules Committee. What you need to know about Rules is that this committee sets the calendar for the votes on the floor. Rules put HB 86 on the schedule for Wednesday. We had our Advocates at the Capitol poised to take action, if needed.
What action, you might ask? Well, even on the day of the vote, it is important to get a pulse on the Bill. Is the talk favorable? This information comes from our sponsor or supporters in the House. They let us know what “the word on the street” is or rather “the word on the floor.” Our people let us know that there were a few who were on the fence and may need some clarification about this bill. We sprang into action and listed those folks, assigning a few to each of us.
Last minute working the ropes
So we worked the ropes to pull these Representatives out and ask for their support! Now mind you, Wednesday the Capitol was crowded with advocates from dental hygienists to refugees. The line was down the hall and around the corner. So another strategy: have place holders in line. They would literally stand in line and get back in line so that we could continually request the legislators come out.
I got lucky! The representative on my list came out and as I launched into what I wanted to talk about he said. “I’m voting yes. I’m for it.” He even put his hand behind his back mimicking that I had twisted his arm. That was easy! It felt as though we might be in for a unanimous vote.
When will they vote?
Oh and did I mention that while we are doing all this we don’t know if the vote has already started? Although each chamber puts out a “calendar” of what will be read and voted on the floor each day, there is no time frame. In the House, the Speaker gets to pick the order. In the Senate, they do go in order of the calendar. So while we are working the ropes we are also trying to keep an eye on the monitor to see if it is time. Once we know, we all gather around the monitor to hear the reading and watch the vote! Pictured here.
The bell tolls.
Once the vote is called for, the monitor changes to the Electronic Voting System. There are lots of bells going off and the screen is ticking off the Green Y or the Red N next to the Legislators name. I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for but I did notice a lot of Green! Green is Yea, Red is Nay and there is also an E that means excused for those who are not in the Chamber for the vote. Much celebrating occurred as we realized our first legislation of the session had made it through the House by a 160 to 3 vote! I was thrilled and riding the wave of excitement too.