I spent the day at the Rhode Island State House. My goals were to observe the groups who were there doing advocacy and what kinds of things they were doing, how they moved about the capitol, and what legislators they were focusing on. As I learned in my prior visit to the building, things are generally very busy in the hour before assembly is called to order.
I saw the following groups working hard on their causes, but I’m sure I missed some groups that perhaps weren’t being as boisterous — or that maybe didn’t bring a big crowd that day.
- Homeless Connect is there every Wednesday from RI Coalition for the Homeless. I love this service and the whole concept. They use the state house as a soup kitchen of sorts and provide bag lunches to the homeless, great way to bring homelessness to the front of legislators’ minds.
- RI Association of Realtors had a press conference about several pieces of legislation, ranging from clean energy to independent contractor regulations. A shame they didn’t deal with the acoustics better (it’s always awful in the rotunda). I’ve seen groups have better luck with events that take place in a hearing room. Then I had a brief twitter-conversation with them afterwards, in which introduced CapitolBuddy.
- American Heart Association was actually the first group I saw when I walked in. It looked like they were having a lobby day with several people wearing AHA buttons and carrying their folders of information. I really wanted to see what they included in the folders, because I bet ULobby could replace it!
- Rhode Island State Nurses Association must have been there too, I saw several people with RN badges walking around, and they were honored during the session by having the second week in May being devoted to them.
Moving on to the actual legislating, I chose to watch the proceedings in the House from the balcony, but I may learn more about the advocates and lobbyists if I went to the main floor and observed outside the chamber door — I hear that they group up over there during the floor meeting. So I shall focus on that when I head over to the Capitol at 3pm, today.
I’ll post my notes from that adventure tomorrow.