Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tour de Frankfort, Stage 3: stuck in the pack

The statistical brief from yesterday's visit to Frankfort for House Bill 88:
Number in Bicycling for Louisville delegation: 5 (a new record)
Number of conversations with legislators: 6
Number of new cosponsors for HB 88: 0

Yesterday, David Morse, Fred Crismon, Dennis Pastor, Ron Schneider, and I went to Frankfort in an effort to influence Rep. John Tilley, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, to schedule a hearing and vote on HB 88 in the Judiciary Committee. Without this, the bill will die in committee, never going back to the House for a vote. Based on our conversation with Rep. Tilley a week ago, we knew that we faced an uphill climb.

We hoped to influence Rep. Tilley by getting other members of the Judiciary Committee and the House Democratic leaders to urge him to have the Committee act on HB 88. Three committee members told us yesterday that they would ask Rep. Tilley to do so. A fourth seemed so discouraging about the bill's chances that I chose not to ask her to speak with Rep. Tilley. House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark did not make themselves available to meet with us yesterday. I don't hold this against them - they both have many more powerful organizations and individuals seeking their time on behalf of other issues. We have no idea whether they support or oppose HB 88, if they have thought about it at all.

I left Frankfort yesterday wondering whether our window of opportunity for HB 88 had passed. With the Judiciary Committee not acting on the bill this week, I knew that we might not have enough time for the bill to make it through all of the necessary steps before the end of the short legislative session.

A phone call came a half-hour ago giving me new hope for passing the bill in the current session. Rep. Jim Wayne, the sponsor of the bill, just planned a meeting tomorrow with some key legislators, leading legal experts in the Legislative Research Commission, and outside interests with a stake in the bill. Bicycling for Louisville will have a seat at the table. He hopes that we can work out compromise language to resolve legal issues raised by some members of the House Judiciary Committee. Rep. Wayne would not have added this meeting to a very busy schedule if he considered it hopeless to pass the bill in the current session.

I will prepare myself to represent clearly the aims of the bill and how we hope it will work with existing statutes. Even if we succeed tomorrow, our bill faces several other challenges before it can pass. After yesterday's disappointments, the meeting tomorrow is a cause for hope.

I thank David, Fred, Dennis, and Ron for spending several hours yesterday lobbying as citizens for HB 88. If we have success tomorrow, Bicycling for Louisville will put out a call for citizens to join us in Frankfort next week to show support for HB 88 at the crucial Judiciary Committee hearing. Stay tuned to our website for updates!


bikeolounger said...

Encouraging turn of events, Barry. Please keep us posted.

jimmy said...

Thanks for the update as always Barry. I am a bit discouraged by the idea of a compromise as the end product of a compromise with this bill is more lives. I guess we'll see. Additionally, I am all for attending next week.

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