One of my favorite Schoolhouse Rock! videos from my childhood was "I'm Just A Bill." I loved watching the little scroll-shaped character go from place to place, demystifying the process without being heavy-handed. He looked a little tired, but he was still spunky and full of hope! Little did I know then how intimately connected I'd become with this process on a state level.
Some history: Almost seven years ago, I was in private practice as a speech-language pathologist. I needed to hire a part-time replacement staff member and was very enthusiastic about a graduate student I had recently trained. That's when I found out about a glitch in the speech-language pathology licensure law in Massachusetts that prevented me from hiring new graduates and billing third-party payers for their services. I won't bore you with the details. It was actually a common issue that forty three other states had already fixed. I figured we could do the same thing here. I got in touch with my state rep and we put together the bill.
Seven years ago.
It all comes down to tomorrow.
There's a little detail they forgot to mention in Schoolhouse Rock!, the small matter of "legislative cycles." If your bill is still stuck in committee at the end of a legislative cycle, you have to start all over again at the beginning of the next legislative cycle. Yes, those perky educators from the '70's allude to it when they refer to bills that "die" in committee. In Massachusetts, there are two-year cycles. This is the end of the third legislative cycle since we first introduced the legislation.
Tomorrow, January 3, 2017 is the final voting session of the current legislative cycle. Our bill was favorably voted out of its final committee last week and was given it's "third reading" which is apparently right before the bill is "engrossed." My rep tells me that it's the last step before going to the floor for a vote.
Um...did I mention the last vote is tomorrow?
I understand desire is the root of all suffering. I understand that my desire to see this bill passed has caused me a considerable amount of suffering over the past seven years. At this moment however, on the cusp of learning whether I have to start all over again, I am resolved that if I have to I will soldier on. There is a larger purpose for this suffering. We have seven graduate programs in speech-language pathology in Massachusetts, but we still have a shortage of trained professionals in many specialties. Our young clinicians are forced to seek positions out of state if they want to work in the medical specialties. If I follow the admonition for myself to extract myself from desire and the concomitant "suffering" that pursuit of this goal has engendered, our whole state loses.
Reason 1547 for why I'm not finding enlightenment this time around.
Now buy the Book!