March 5, 2019. For many it’s just another Tuesday. But for many others it marks the opening day of the 2019 legislative session in Florida. So for the next 60 days lawmakers, their staff, lobbyists, special interest groups and advocates from all walks of life will descend upon the city of Tallahassee.
For those of us that “live” in the political world, these next two months become the most important of the year. And because we are so focused on what happens, we get the false impression that everyone in Florida is as plugged in and concerned as we are. But is that really true?
As much as we might like to believe it is, the reality is probably not. In fact many people aren’t even aware or frankly even care about what’s going on. But why is that? Maybe it’s because our capital seems so far away for most Floridians. Here’s an example. The drive from Key West to Tallahassee is 639 miles and takes almost 10 hours! To put that into perspective, the drive from Tallahassee to Chicago, Illinois is 960 miles and takes just over 14 hours. So perhaps “out of sight, out of mind” is the mentality.
Another reason is because many Floridians see very little differences in their daily lives as a result of laws passed during the legislative session. Once it’s concluded, they still have the same job, the same financial concerns, still want the same things for their family…in other words life goes on as before.
So why should people care or get involved? Because this really is representative government in action. It’s people raising their voices or championing a cause. It’s hardworking citizens choosing to make a difference. And it’s our young people learning about how their government works and perhaps inspiring them to one day run for office and become the next generation of leaders.
When I was an elected official in Apopka, I spent many days in Tallahassee during the annual legislative session talking with legislators, staff, lobbyists, and colleagues from around the state. Today, I help my clients do the same. And while these days are long and quite exhausting, they are also exhilarating! The entire capital has an air of excitement about it and conversations abound everywhere about politics and the legislative process.
Knowing I was and still am a very small part of all of that and had the opportunity to influence my legislators for the betterment of my city was the driving force behind my love affair with advocacy.
Each year I believe a new session brings another opportunity for anyone who’s ready to get involved. How amazing is it that everyday citizens can affect change and be part of the process that leads to a better future for them and their families?
So as the 2019 session begins, it is my sincere hope that this will be the year you decide to get engaged in the process. Because I promise you…your voice matters to those who are ready to lead our great state in the coming year.
Your Partner in Advocacy…Kathy