In all the years that I spent in school, they covered the United States legislative process in only one of those grades. I think it’s safe to say that I had learned nothing. Oh sure, I know that there is a House of Representatives, a Senate, and the President. And a House of Representatives, Senate, and Governor for every state. (Ok, I may be lying about that last one. I’m not sure I knew that we had Senators that go to Washington and we have Senators that just work for CT until the past few months. I must have been absent from school the day they covered that section.) If you asked me how a bill becomes law, I’m sure I could fake the answer somehow. But let’s face it; even after going to school every day for 12 years, everything I know about legislation did not come from a teacher or a text book. No, like many of us that grew up in the 60’s and 70’s, we learned about the major things in life by watching TV on Saturday mornings, listening to “School House Rock”. My legislation knowledge and prowess is limited to a catchy little number called, “I’m just a Bill on Capitol Hill”.
(My personal favorite “School House Rock” was “3 is a Magic Number”.
A man and a woman had a little baby,You couldn't read that without singing it, huh! I know, me neither. I loved that one! But back to But today I am ste-ill just a Be-ill on Capitol He-ill.)
yes they did,
They had three-eee in the fam-i-ly.
It’s a magic number.
3, 6, 9...
12, 15, 18...
21, 24, 27...
Ok, so naturally, when my Canadian friend said she was working on getting a Bill passed, I knew exactly what she meant. I just started to sing the, “I’m just a Bill on Capitol Hill” ditty. And of course I knew what she meant because we Americans get Bills passed all the time. Piece of cake. Do it every day. I told her, as her American friend, if she needed help with that, to just let me know.
Thank God she never asked! What the heck do I know about Bills, other than ducks breathe through ‘em! Little did the Canadian know that as she went through the process, I was learning along with her.
I don’t think she realizes how special it is that she was able to be a part of changing a law in Connecticut. Being born into the United States, I have to admit that we Americans sit back and think that others will take care of what’s wrong with our state and our country. We love to point fingers at the politicians for not doing their jobs; we love to blame the President when the world isn’t right. But most of us won’t stand up and do what it takes to make a change that can protect others. Most of us don’t even know HOW to approach changing a law.
But foreigners, like the Canadian, come to our country and believe that this is what the United States of America is all about. So when they come here, they take action because they think that's what we all do here. So that’s what the Canadian did. She saw something that needed to be changed and she took it upon herself to see what she could do to make a change.
Granted, it wasn’t a law that would save lives, or help in the effort for world peace. But there was a gap in the law that effected senior citizens and their right to privacy and nobody prior to the Canadian had championed it before. Everyone accepted the law as it was, leaving senior citizens in our State at risk. It took a Canadian to stand up and say, “Hey, this isn’t right.”
She reached out to the CT Commission on Aging (CoA). (Did you even know that there was such a thing? A Commission on Aging? Why would a State need a Commission on Aging? (Go to http://www.cga.ct.gov/coa/About.asp to read what they do.) They agreed with the Canadian’s viewpoint that the law should be modified. So the CoA drafted legislation that protects the privacy of senior citizens by exempting their personal information from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) disclosure requests of publicly operated senior centers and passed it on to the Select Committe on Aging to raise the bill. It went through some other committees and then went to the House of Representatives. The Representatives agreed with the Canadian and passed it. It then went on to the Senate. They, too, agreed and passed it. Then it went to the Governor. In this case, Governor M. Jodi Rell, a senior citizen herself, also agreed with the Canadian and passed the Bill. As Governor Rell pointed out, when a Bill is proposed and is bipartisan, and it’s right, it passes quickly.
Now, unfortunately, when it came time to sign the Bill, the Canadian was recovering from major surgery. A public signing of the Bill at the Senior Center that the Canadian is the Director of was scheduled. After having surgery, from her hospital bed, she received notice that the Governor was going to sign the Bill that week. The Canadian reached out to Representative Sandy Nafis and told her of her dilemma. The Canadian even knew how to do that! And because she did, they postponed the signing to when the Canadian was able to make it.
In our discussions of this event, the Canadian asked me if Rachel and I wanted to attend this event. "It’s no big deal", she said. Yeah, I know it’s no big deal. Rachel and I go to Bill signings all the time. Yawn. Boring. And we get to see the Governor of Connecticut all the time. Matter of fact, I wish M. Jodi would stop texting me.
OF COURSE WE WANT TO GO! I even broke down and took a vacation day for the event.
Unlike me, as with any 9 year old missing camp for the day, Rachel wasn’t thrilled to be going. She would be missing out on dodge ball or something. She has a vague idea of what the Governor does and who she is, but she really was not sure why this was special or why it would be important to meet the Governor. (No “School House Rock” on Saturday mornings anymore to teach the child! Grrr.) It wasn’t until after the fact, when I heard her on the phone telling a friend that she had met the Governor and the friend gasped and said, “You did WHAT???!!!!”, that she felt that she had done something special.
Not only did she meet Governor Rell...
...She posed with the Governor...
...and they had a lengthy conversation...
I know, Governor. I have that look on my face a lot when I talk to Rachel too.
Governor Rell giving tax-saving tips to Rachel while Senator Doyle and Dianne Stone try to listen in.
(Actually, the Governor was telling Rachel that she is the 2nd woman Governor, the first being Ella T. Grasso.)
The event was televised but never made it on the air because it was upstaged by tornados in Connecticut. As if tornados are more important? Sheesh. As we watched the news, waiting for Dianne’s 15 minutes of fame, there was nothing but weather on every channel. I told Dianne, “This must be what Farrah Fawcett felt like when Michael Jackson died on the same day.”
If you’re interested, here is a video, taken by yours truly, of the Bill-signing event with the Canadian, the Governor and some of CT’s politicians that you may recognize, on July 21, 2010:
I know some of you are saying “Big deal” right now. Jodi Rell. Spff. But politics aside, State budgets aside, she’s still the Governor of Connecticut. How many of YOU have a picture with the Governor? How many of you can say that you got a Bill-signing pen with the Governor’s logo on it? Huh? Can I see a show of hands? That’s what I thought. But Rachel and I do! Nah-nah-N-nah-nah! Oh alright. I’ll let you touch the pen, but you need to promise to be nice to me.
My Kaneclusion: Seriously, it took a Canadian to teach me what it takes to get a Bill originated and passed into law in the United States. How messed up is that? Thanks for spending all that money on private school, Mom and Dad. I tried to tell my parents back then, “I don’t need to go to school. Can’t I just stay home and watch TV all day?” As it turned out, everything I needed to know I learned from “School House Rock”! Had they just listened to me, they would have saved a bundle on tuition.
Or maybe I should have just moved to Canada since they know more about our legislative system than we do.
This week, in the news, it's been all about Arizona and the blocking of the immigration law they tried to implement in their state. To those that think our borders should be shut down and not allow any more foreigners in, I disagree with that. As long as people come here legally, it’s beneficial to have people from other countries come to the United States. Some, like Dianne, contribute to our state and make our state and country a better place to live.
Congratulations on a job well done to Dianne! The senior citizens of Connecticut, and the future seniors (like you and me) thank you for stepping up and taking action!
The signing of House Bill 5278:
Me and my ol' chum, M. Jodi. (Call me! We'll do lunch.)