They came from Port Townsend, from University Friends, Salmon Bay, and South Seattle, from Eastside, from Vashon Island and Whidbey Island, from Olympia, and isolated Friends from east of the mountains. 51 Quaker activists in all convened on Presidents’ Day, February 18, at Olympia Friends Meeting for the fifth annual Quaker Lobby Day sponsored by Friends Committee on Washington Public Policy (FCWPP).
Following introductions and morning worship, each Friend had an opportunity to participate in two of three small group discussions concerning current legislation. The Criminal Justice group focused on several bills before the legislature dealing with gun-violence (including background checks for all gun sales, safe gun storage, and alternative programs for juveniles in possession of an illegal gun), abolishing the death penalty, and creating a corrections ombuds.
The Economic Justice and Health Care group covered Medicaid expansion and health benefit exchange funding, support for the Basic Health Option, and creation of a Washington Health Security Trust. The Local Responses to Global Challenges group dealt with establishing a Washington Investment Trust, county control of aquaculture and micro-hydro renewable energy from irrigation water.
After a session on how to lobby – the key goal is establishing lasting relationships – participants organized themselves, over a delicious lunch, into delegations by legislative district and moved to the Capitol Campus. Following the keynote talk by Sen. Nick Harper, all went to appointments with our Senators, Representatives, or legislative assistants to discuss the issues on which we had been briefed that morning.
Many Friends deserve thanks – for registering participants, making appointments with a total of 42 legislators, selecting focus issues and preparing briefing materials, providing hospitality, and seeing that all parts of the puzzle fitted together.
So, be on the lookout next year for another opportunity to bring our Friendly presence and Quaker testimonies to the seat of public policy decision making in Washington State.
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