The Ropes

Getting to know the ropes

 If you are like I was a few weeks ago, you know little about how lobbying goes on under the Gold Dome or at any Capitol, for that matter.  I am learning the ropes as I go and I will fill you in on a lot of secrets! Well, actually they are not really secrets. You just feel as though someone is keeping something from you if they are using lingo you don’t quite understand.

The Lingo

Advocates working the ropes at senior day

Advocates working the ropes at senior day

If you “know the ropes” at the Capitol you would be “working the ropes.” Simply put this means you are talking to legislators about what is important to you. It is termed this way because the legislators are “roped” off in front of their respective chamber, the House or the Senate. The legislators can go behind the ropes, but the rest of us must remain on the other side. You can linger near the ropes in hopes of catching the elected official you want to speak to… or you can request your legislator come out of the chamber to the ropes to meet you. There is a strategy here. To make a request you must use the service of a page. Each chamber has a request form to complete that is then assigned to a page.


A page? Another bit of lingo you should know. Pages are messengers. They have been in use since early days of the US Congress. School age children sign up for this role. A page will take your request into the legislator and come back with a response or they let you know the person is not at their seat. In this case, you might try again later. Either way, you have to test your memory skills here and recall who your page is… remember their hair, their clothes or their number. Something. Monday was challenging because the pages were ROTC students so they all had on the same uniform. 


South rotunda during senior day

South rotunda during senior day

The second week of the session was a busy one for aging advocates. We had over 500 advocates come to the Capitol for Senior Day. Our guides helped them work the ropes. We had three bills dropped since my last post. Dropped? That doesn’t sound good if you don’t know the lingo. But what that means is three issues that we are supporting legislation for now have sponsors. The bills have been dropped into the process and have been assigned a number. So this is a good thing! Visit our home page to get updates on HB 72, HB 86 and HB 92.


Now you know three terms:

·         Working the ropes

·         Page

·         Drop the bill

As I continue to work the ropes and learn the ropes, I will continue to share with you what I learn… so read on next week. You are sure to expand your knowledge beyond grade school civics. 

Bonus: Want your school age child to be a page? Click here for more information.