Monday, February 11, 2013

My Excellent Lobbying Adventure

Last Wednesday I went to the AZ state capitol here in Phoenix to participate in the AZ Humane Lobby Day, sponsored by the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the US.

Despite living in Phoenix for nearly 20 years, it was my first trip to the state capitol, actually located only about 10 miles from where I live.  It was an interesting, eye-opening experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Arizona State Capitol building
(Click on the pictures to view them full size)

There were about 120 people attending, representing 23 of the 30 state legislative districts.  We met in the Old Senate chambers and discussed the three bills we were there to lobby.  They are:

1) Animal Fighting as Racketeering - would classify any kind of animal fighting as a racketeering activity, opening the door to easier prosecution and stiffer penalties.
2) Prohibiting the Roadside Sale of animals - Already banned in Maricopa and Pinal counties, this law would prohibit animals being sold on the side of the road statewide
3) Prohibiting Live Animals being given away as prizes - this law would prohibit statewide the heinous, loathsome activity of giving away live baby bunnies and other animals as prizes at carnivals, events, etc. to idiots who have no clue or desire to care for them properly.

All 3 bills are working their way through committees, and we are hopeful they all will be passed through.  Then of course they have to be voted on by both legislative bodies and signed by the Governor, and there are many ways the measures can be derailed and killed, but we are hopeful they will become law.

Arizona House of Representatives, meeting in session

All us lobbyists were scheduled to meet with our three legislators, 2 representatives and 1 senator.  Our two representatives were busy running all over the place doing other things, but we did meet with our state senator, Ms. Katie Hobbs, and she was extremely nice and supportive of our efforts and the causes we were advocating.

Needless to say, I took each and every opportunity to mention the plight of rabbits in the context of all three bills, especially the carnival prize one, because it's so easy just to focus on dogs and cats.  While that is indeed worthy and necessary, I was not about to let bunnies get pushed into the background and given the short shrift.

There was a lot of legwork, running between the state House and Senate buildings, and a little bit of chaos as we tried valiantly to meet with our representatives, but in the end we met with one rep's staffer, and for the other one we only dropped off materials for them to review, but I believe we got our message to them.

While lobbying, I got a chance to visit the Arizona Capitol Museum in the Capitol building, with its graceful, colorful dome:

Also, there was a model of a very interesting design by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright for a new capitol area, created in the 1950's but never built:

I had a really good time at my first try at political lobbying, and I think I may have somewhat of a knack for it.  I would love to do more and I'm sure I'll be participating in the next Humane Lobby Day.  I will use each and every opportunity to bring awareness and raise consciousness of the treatment of rabbits in this state.  I consider it an honor to raise my voice for those who can't speak.

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