Wednesday, August 8, 2012

AB 2039 – New Pumps for the Senate

AB 2039 was heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday.  I was asked by the Labor Project for Working Families to testify at the hearing which, you know, pretty much sent me into apoplectic shock. 

I was terrified.

No, really.  I am not overstating it. 

As a Legal Administrator, I have had to grow into my role of speaking in front of groups of people.  It does not come easily. 

I had flashbacks of me in middle school and high school with palms sweating, a face turning all shades of red (which has been the only thing to ever cover up my freckles) and tripping over my words.  That is, once I finally got them to come out.

Yeah, you could say I was on the shy side.

As an adult, I speak in front of small groups of people at work and still get nervous every time.  I don’t blush as often, my palms stay fairly dry and I’m able to put a coherent sentence together but I’m still nervous.

The thought of standing in front of a senate committee and speaking – well, I had to think about it. I finally realized that even though I wasn’t sure I could do it, I would regret it forever if I didn't try. 

My I'm-Testifying-In-Front-of-A-Senate-Committee Shoes
I am passionate about expanding the definition of family under CFRA and if telling my story as both a working caregiver and an employer will help, then I would testify.

To calm my nerves, I bought a new pair of pumps. 

Shoes are my comfort food.  (Ice cream, cookies and French Toast are also my comfort food but at least shoes don’t have any calories).

My daughter shopped with me and we found the perfect pair of pumps.  I felt I could walk into the Capitol building with confidence in these pumps.  I knew I could stand in front of the Appropriations Committee with these sensibly priced, yet cute shoes.  I thought maybe the new shoes would keep my mind off of my fear.

The hearing room was packed so I stood with representatives from the Labor Project for Working Families as well as the Legal Aid Society.  There were several bills being heard which gave me a great opportunity to see how the process worked.  I am fascinated with the government process so relaxed (a bit) and enjoyed the learning experience. 

Once seats opened up, we sat down and I worked on editing my prepared statement.  I had brought several copies with me which allowed me to revise my statement several times. 

By several, I mean at least a couple dozen.

It was finally time for AB 2039 to be presented by Assembly Member Sandré Swanson so I stopped revising and listened. 

This older gentleman, who uses a cane to get around, has worked to expand the definition of CFRA since 2007.  He is dedicated to helping families and it was a pleasure to listen to his passionate plea for his bill.

The people who came to speak either in support or against proposed legislation sat at a table in front of the committee members who were seated in a semi-circle in front of the table on a raised platform.

I sat in front of a microphone (and apparently a camera for the feed to the audience although I couldn’t tell where the camera was). 

As I sat waiting for my turn, I could literally hear and feel my heart beating in my chest and thought what a waste of new pumps if my heart goes out before I get a chance to speak!

Finally, it was my turn and I started reading my prepared statement (my typed page with handwritten edits on it, of course). 

After tripping over my own name (yep, I did), I settled into the comfort of my words and the passion I felt for the cause.  I looked at Madame Chairperson Kehoe and the other members of the committee as I talked and wondered who among them was also a caregiver.

I didn’t even blush.

Once I finished my statement, I thanked Assembly Member Swanson for his bill and the committee members for their time and walked my pumps back to my seat in the audience. 

A huge wave of relief came over me as I simultaneously wanted to jump up and down screaming: I did it! I did it!  I wonder if the pumps can handle a lot of jumping??  

A member of Assembly Member Swanson’s staff came over to thank me and the Legal Aid Society attorney for testifying. 

I assured her it was, ‘No problem at all.”

We listened as the bill was put in “suspense” which means there is more work to do.  Letters to the committee members can still help so please send in your letters!  Contact information for the members can be found in this post.    

I certainly hope AB 2039 eventually gets through this committee but no matter what happens, I have my pumps and am ready for my next visit to the Capitol. 


Kathy Lowrey said...

And those are definitely "I have something to say so listen up" pumps!
I would have been noticing your shoes and not paying attention to your name mishap.

I'm so excited for you that you got the opportunity to do this. I can only imagine how nervous you were. Passion for something gives us great emotional strengths, doesn't it.

You're awesome Trish. Great Job!

Trish Hughes Kreis said...

Thanks, Kathy! It helps calm my nerves when I realize I'm speaking not just for myself but other caregivers. I felt all my caregiver friends in the room there with me! (You had a really good time there, by the way). :-)