On March 15, 2018 I arrived at the State Legislative Office Building to present testimony before the Public Safety and Security Committee of Connecticut’s General Assembly regarding two casino bills under consideration. There are unwritten procedures and rules at the Legislative Office Building, that favor the entrenched interests in our politics, i.e., connected lobbyists. Knowing this, I arrived early and got in line, hoping to secure my spot as one of the first witnesses. Shortly after that I was joined by two pastors from Bridgeport who would be joining me in testifying regarding the casino bills. We were very happy to see that, by arriving early, we would be among the first to testify (the beginning of the public hearing is the best time to testify because it is then when the press and committee members are most likely to be present.)
After waiting in line for 30 minutes about 6-8 other lobbyists showed up and expected to cut in front of the line. They were very insistent that, pursuant to the “unwritten” rules, they were entitled to go first. I told them I was not moving. After several minutes of going back and forth ( and the two pastors from Bridgeport praying for me as I was in confrontation with these lobbyists), they eventually got in the back of the line.
They expected because of the power of the organizations they represent, they should be first in line. They expected because they are seasoned lobbyists at the Legislative Office Building, that they deserved special treatment and should be first in line. It was uncomfortable standing up to these lobbyists, but it was the right and just thing to do.
Tamika Mallory, an activist and the national co-chair for the Woman’s March, said it best: if you are not uncomfortable in your work, you are not doing your work to its full potential. When have you been uncomfortable, but did/said/stood up for it anyway? Has there been a time when someone in your congregation made a good suggestion about something, but you knew other members may not agree, but you supported it anyway because it was the right thing to do?
The Coalition Against Casino Expansion in Connecticut (CACE) which CTUCC is leading is happy that the casino expansion bill did not pass this Legislative Session, but it did pass the House. Here is how your State Representative voted https://www.cga.ct.gov/2018/VOTE/h/2018HV-00212-R00HB05305-HV.htm If she/he voted No on this bill, please call and email her/him and thank them. If they voted yes, please call and email them and ask her/him why they voted yes. Here is a sample script you can use:
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