(If you're like I was a month ago and not totally familiar with the process, that's GOOD news!)
Well, what an exciting day I had today. I'm not even sure where to begin... But you can scroll down to the bottom of this post if you don't like stories, and you will see that the Senate Transportation Committee voted in favor of the license plates, and they'll go to the Senate Thursday (tomorrow) or Friday. Yay!!
Last week, Senator Deeds' aide emailed me to ask if I could be in Richmond today (Jan 22) to testify on behalf of the bill in front of the Senate Transportation Committee.
I had planned to be there anyway when it was introduced, just to see for myself what happened..... but now that I knew my presence could possibly help the bill, there was no way I wasn't going.
...Even with Winter Storm Janus possibly threatening to keep me imprisoned at home.
I would've walked to a bus stop, at worst, and somehow, some way, found a way to get to Richmond.
Except I didn't have to resort to that, because last year I traded in my cute yellow car and got a practical and fun SUV with all-wheel-drive that was pretty much made for this weather. Thus, this morning I woke up early and dressed in the outfit it only took me 3 hours to pick out (heyyy, many, MANY outfits must be considered for serious business like this). Then I loaded ALL 473 of the applications, my lunch, coffee, a pair of black gardening clogs (for walking in the slush), and myself into my lil' Subie and set out on the unpaved roads.
I was certain that I-95 would be full of people driving 30 mph and it would take me at least 3 hours to get down to Richmond. But not too many people were out, the roads were surprisingly nice, and I made it down there by 11:00am. I found parking and walked only 2 or 3 blocks to the Capitol complex, but it was freeeeeeeezing. It was only 18 degrees when I parked my car, and so windy!
I went to the gallery to watch the Senate Session. I've been listening to them via the Live Feed pretty much every day, and it's so interesting. But in a way, I feel like a stalker, or like I'm spying on them. Today was much different than watching online because I found out almost all of them are eating lunch while in session, haha! You could constantly hear soda cans popping open, and there was a lot of other talking and things going on that you don't hear on the online stream.
The other thing was how fascinating it is to see a vote. I don't even care what people are voting on. On election day I'm sitting there glued to the TV all day, long before any votes actually start coming in. Today was similar. Listening to the different comments, and I could clearly see the little board and the green or red squares next to everyone's names, and who voted which way, who changed their votes... I can't believe more people don't sit in there and watch this. If I lived down there, I bet I'd be there every day at lunch to see what's going on!
After the Senate session adjourned, the butterflies started in my stomach and I began to get a little nervous- the Senate Transportation Committee meets just 45 minutes after Senate adjournment. I walked to the General Assembly building and finally got to meet Senator Deeds' aide, with whom I've been communicating for sooo long now, and then briefly got to meet Senator Deeds himself. He was exactly as I was expecting- a warm, genuine person with an infectious smile. He seemed super busy, so I didn't want to stay and bother him for too long. I wished I could have stayed longer and given him a more proper "thank you" for introducing the bill and being so nice, and I would have liked to have gotten a picture with him, too- but maybe this summer, after the bill passes, I can stop by his office and thank him again.
at 1:45 the Senate Transportation Committee meeting began and around 2:30 the pollinator plates were introduced. There was a little confusion- or maybe that was just on my part, since I am the one who isn't totally familiar with the process- but after deciding SB259 would not be combined into a bill with other license plates, I got up to speak on behalf of the bill. I started to think maybe I didn't need to be there, as it seemed they were about to quickly move along without me- but when I went up to the podium, everyone smiled and seemed welcoming. I shortened what I had planned to say by about half, since I got the impression the bill was going to pass whether I told them why I created the plates or not. I think what they wanted to hear was "I'm speaking in favor of this bill" and "I have 473 applications...." Done.
I waited to see if they had any questions, and the next few seconds were a blur... because I looked over at Senator Deeds and he smiled and nodded, like I didn't need to do anything else, so I returned to my seat. As I walked to my seat, they did the vote, and it happened so fast.... I missed it. Kind of. I sat down and was a mix of things- confused and happy and sad all at once (and shaking horribly). Sad that I missed it, confused wondering, did I just miss it!?!?? But happy that I didn't remember hearing a bunch of people yell out "No!!" Plus in the committees, there is no fancy illuminated board with names and lights and squares to look at. You gotta be on your toes.
I came home and viewed the bill page, then reloaded again... and again... and again, until it was at last updated with the following (and confirmed what I hoped- believed- to be true!):
I'm just.... going to leave that here, for now.