My Lobby Day Surprise

by Pam Poindexter

Thinking that lobby days aren’t your thing? Think again. Lobby days are a rewarding experience full of comradery and insightful information. You might even have a conversation with the governor!

On January 23rd, with the generous help and insights of Act on Mass and the ACLU of Massachusetts, Indivisible Mass Coalition hosted its first lobby day. Although it wasn’t my first lobby day, I felt that same sense of excitement I get every time I walk through the halls of our Massachusetts State House. The day started off with an introductory meeting full of helpful facts about the three bills we were there to lobby for, tips on effective lobbying, and inspiring speeches from the legislators who filed the bills. 

Next, with fact sheets in hand for each of the bills: the Voting ACCESS Act (S.410), the Sunlight Agenda (S.1963), and The Location Shield Act (S.148/H.357), we were off to meet with our state senators and representatives. As is sometimes the case, both of mine were not on Beacon Hill that day, so I met with their staff members instead. Being an introvert, I still get a bit nervous when it comes to explaining why a bill or issue deserves support. But these meetings were both easy and rewarding. It also helped that my fellow lobbyists and I were armed with materials to leave behind in case we forgot to cover any key points.

After my meetings I headed back to our designated lobby day post-meeting site when I passed Governor Healey in the hall. We both said hello, and just a few steps after she passed me she called back to ask why I was there. With no time to get cold feet, I launched into the merits of passing each bill. She listened and noted the areas where she had supported these issues, both in her role as attorney general and governor. There was a slightly awkward moment when I pointed out the last provision of the Sunlight Agenda Bill, which specifically calls for the governor’s adherence to the Open Records Law. She said she supported the measure with a few exceptions, such as personal privacy matters. As we parted ways, she thanked me by name. I was elated! I walked on air for the next hour thinking that the Governor knew my name, until one of my fellow lobbyists reminded me that I had a name tag on. 😊

Overall, the inaugural Indivisible Mass Coalition and Allies Lobby Day was a great success. Over 50 activists joined us on Beacon Hill, and others contacted their senators and reps by phone or email. We spoke to or left fact sheets for every elected official, including a personalized one from me for Governor Healey. 

Indivisible Mass Coalition received kudos for the Lobby Day in an article written by author David Pepper that was published on 2/5 by the Kettering Foundation. He stated that “What Deb (Paul) and these tireless activists showed in Massachusetts was that the battle for democracy involves more than just even-year elections in swing states, or elections at all. Lifting democracy involves nonstop effort, in blue states and red, on big election days as well as every day.” Lobby days provide yet another way to help preserve our democracy.

Update: Since the IMC Lobby Day, we’ve been able to measure some success from our ongoing efforts and those of our allies. 

  • The Sunlight Agenda Bill was voted favorably out of Committee.
  • The Voting ACCESS Act was extended to May 28.
  • The Location Shield Act received an extension until July 31.

IMC will likely plan additional lobby days in the future. Hope you can join us!