East KY Citizen Lobby Training

Despite snowy roads and widespread sickness, over a dozen east Kentucky members attended a Citizen Lobby Training at Hindman Settlement School this past weekend.  The training brought out folks from 5 counties, some with decades of lobbying experience along with people who’ve never lobbied or never even been to Frankfort.  

Long time member Patty Amburgey, of Letcher County, shared several experiences and pointers from her years of lobbying in Frankfort.

“Everyone should go learn how bills are made and visit elected officials and hear about what they think,” Patty told folks at the meeting. She went on to talk about how her experiences have changed over the years:

“They used to ignore us, but now we’ve grown.  They know us.  They acknowledge us. They know we’re not going away.  They’re listening more and more. It’s important to listen to what they have to say, too.  We really have a lot to learn from each other.”

gDSC_0520Others in the room shared Patty’s perspective of feeling stronger as KFTC has grown over the years.  Perry County member Russell Oliver said, “We are stronger as we get more members.  If you go lobby alone, you can feel invisible.  We gain a lot of power together.”

Newer members who plan to lobby for the first time this year, like Katie Pirotina of Hazard, were grateful for the stories they heard. “I’m excited to learn about this whole process.  I think it might take getting there and experiencing it to really know what its about.  I’ve already asked for some days off to go to Frankfort!”

Besides quite a bit of time spent sharing stories, the group also participated in an “issue hop” where they learned about KFTC’s legislative priorities for 2013.  The group split into small groups to “hop” from issue to issue, learning about bills to protect Kentucky streams, build a stronger energy portfolio, strengthen our democracy, and make our tax structure fairer for all Kentucky families.   Several members shared their knowledge of bills they’ve worked on and lobbied for, while others were really thankful for the crash course.  gDSC_0535

Members like Letcher County’s Josh May shared that while he didn’t have a lot of experience in Frankfort, he did have the opportunity last summer to lobby in Washington, DC with legislators and at the federal office of the Environmental Protection Agency.  “I look forward to doing more work in Frankfort.  Lobbying in D.C. was a great experience, but it can also be pretty intimidating.”

Towards the end of the training, members did some planning for upcoming lobby days in Frankfort as well as preparing for a meeting with a state legislator here at home scheduled for later this month.   Folks used role-plays to help prepare themselves for meetings to come and get comfortable communicating their visions.

A short evaluation of the day of training revealed that people were really thankful for time to think and learn about issues they care about, together.  Twelve year-old Issac Owens from Prestonburg shared that he “can’t wait to go to Frankfort!”

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