Become Involved or Stay Informed
By Dr. Stacy Howard, Florida Children’s Council. This week marks the 6th legislative committee week leading up to the start of the 2014 Legislative Session. With three remaining committee weeks prior to the start of session on March 4th (weeks of February 3rd, 10th, and 17th), there is a lot of work being accomplished across the many priorities of the Council. This year’s session begins on Tuesday March 4th and 60 days later, ends on Friday May 2nd. If you have not already, check out the Council’s 2014 legislative priorities to see the wide array of issues that we keep at the forefront of our collective work with partners. Our focus, of course, is any policy that impacts our youngest children, youth and their families.
The legislative process takes place year-round, but there are certain times of the year that anyone interested can become involved or stay up to date on the most current movement of issues. Following are 5 distinct and different ways to access information during committee weeks and the legislative session. We look forward to the work ahead on the issues we feel most passionate! There is still much to be done, but with the support of informed professionals and vocal citizens, we can achieve more than any of us can achieve alone.
We encourage you to utilize one or all of the following options:
Visit Your Legislator: This option is the best option to get to know those members who represent you, your community and your issues and were voted into office to do so. During these meetings you can place an issue on his/her agenda, have an opportunity to educate on the importance of your issue either personal or professional, and establish rapport directly with the person(s) who represents you. Click here to find your Senator(s) and click here to find your Representative(s). Included on these pages is the complete contact information for each member.
Attend Committee Meetings: Any meeting of the legislature is a public event, so if you are in town and have the time, attend in person. This is a great way to get a feel for how decisions are made in the legislative process and to see members in action. Additionally, if you have something to share on a particular issue being considered by a committee, there are always speaker cards in the back of the room to complete and submit. Stories from those who work every day on the issues being discussed are the most powerful and influential types of information a committee can hear. This is always an effective way to communicate your experience and tell your story. Click here for the calendar of events for the Senate and the calendar of events for the House.
Watch Live Broadcasts: If you are unable to travel to Tallahassee or attend in person, select committee meetings are broadcast live via the Florida Senate and Florida House homepages. Click here to see the schedule of Senate broadcasts each day and click here for the list of House broadcasts.
Read Capitol Connection: Each week during the legislative session, the Council publishes an end-of-the- week highlight of legislative activities and decisions. For many years the Capitol Connection has been published to provide the public current information. This diverse and comprehensive resource is filled with details and hyperlinks so that readers can easily access information and learn about current movement. To make it even easier – you can receive this weekly publication by simply signing up for our electronic distribution list. It’s simple – just click here to sign up! Another way to access Capitol Connection is to regularly visit our Capitol Connection webpage.
Contact Us!: The Council is here to answer any questions you might have about either accessing information or about information you might have. We work diligently throughout the year on many issues and are happy to share our knowledge with interested professionals and citizens. You can visit our Florida Children’s Council webpage or contact us directly anytime – CEO, Brittany Birken at firstname.lastname@example.org and Director of Research & Development, Stacy Howard at email@example.com.
Committees to Watch: Following are both Senate and House committees to watch. If you are interested, just click on a committee and it will take you to the homepage so you can see members, purpose and meeting materials. This section is simple to navigate – by clicking on areas of interest, you will be taken directly to the current webpage – so bookmark this page and utilize it as a resource throughout session!