The 84th Legislative session has started, and I am like a dog with a bone, or as my husband says, "A child at Christmas". The race had begun and I was looking forward to being a rather vocal spectator!
During my search through proposed legislation, to make sure there is nothing that would be derogatory to our profession, I invariably come across a bill filed that peeks my interest, either in a positive or negative way. There are usually one or two subjects, other than that which involves our industry, that make me want to stand up and be counted!
Monday was a beautiful, warm, typical Austin, Texas day. The sun was shining and I was ready to take the world by storm, or at the very least, go to work with a smile on my face! Dana did not have any meetings planned, that would take him away from his desk, but he dressed in more formal attire than is the norm, in case a call should be received from a chief of staff, or a legislative aide, to suggest a convenient time for a meeting. I dressed accordingly, in a white shirt, blue skirt and jacket, and the appropriate accessorising boots, just in case I should be called to interview a celebrity, or host a television show. None of the above happened, although I think that Dana's chances were far higher than mine, as he received several emails to make appointments later in the week. I am still awaiting a call!
I did receive one visitor during the day. The speech therapist, whom offices across the hall, came to ask if she could leave some keys with me, to be picked up later by a friend. As we are probably the only company within the building to keep regular hours, and can always be relied upon to be 'open' between the hours of eight to five, her choice was limited, but the challenge was not particularly overwhelming and I, of course, agreed. Keeping the keys in a safe place was also not much of a challenge. Remembering where they were was not much of a challenge. Staying in the office until they were collected, was not a challenge. Keeping tomato soup away from my white shirt, was impossible! Looking like a stabbed victim from an Agatha Christie mystery, (although there was very little mystery) I began to wonder, with the prospect of having to liaise with a member of the public, why I had chosen such a vindictive food item for lunch! Shortly after the malicious broth incident, a very smartly dressed lady opened the door to our office, and called my name. I rose from my chair, but not enough for the wound to show, and responded by saying her name, questionably. She confirmed, and I handed her the keys, still bent over the desk. I decided that my meals for the rest of the week would have to be in dry format. Although my appearance at the Capitol would not be as prolific as my husband's, I had been asked if I would be willing to give my 'testimony' at a hearing, should the bill upon which I had called to give my support, reach a committee, and be subject to a hearing! Falling at the first hurdle was not a good start!
During the course of the week, I scanned the new bills and came across another which I found to be of particular interest. Although I know very little about fish other than how to saute, bake or poach it, I am aware that fishing is a sport, or hobby, which is enjoyed by many people, especially here in Texas. When I saw a bill that would support the abolition of licensing for anyone over 65 years of age, as well as for veterans, I decided to join the cause! I thought it was a very commendable effort to allow a favourite pastime to be enjoyed by the senior members of our society, and those who had served to keep this the land of the free, without the burden of having to pay to do so. However, I had a question. As little as I know about the fish, I knew even less about fishing! I called the representatives office to enquire as to the conditions of a license. Do all who hold a rod, apart from those under the age limit, require a license? My question was met with a 'oh, um', and then silence. Giving the receptionist the benefit of the doubt, and assuming that she may be a freshman intern (oh how the native language flows!) as I had broken the golden rule, and not asked to speak to the legislative director, or chief of staff, (and there she goes again!) I gave her a clue! "Would all those in grandpa's group, be covered by his license, or lack thereof? Could everyone be exempt as they are part of grandpa's party?" I wanted to make sure that the privileged would not be abused, causing loss of revenue to the state, and felt it may be a loop hole that possibly needed to be addressed. I stressed that I did not know anything about the fishing licensing laws, and perhaps should have checked before calling, but felt sure that the person filing the bill would know the answer. Again, this was not something with which she was au fait, but she would certainly ask someone form her office who was, and get them to give me a call. It was when she asked me for my address did I fall at the second hurdle. Well aware of how the brain can sometimes become so involved in the complicated that it forgets the simple, I lost the ability to recall my address. I struggled to remember my house number, as I am so used to quoting that of the office. (When my children were young, and went on outings without me, I made sure they had a piece of paper in their pocket, upon which was written a telephone number, should they ever get separated from their friends, and in their panic, forget the basics. They were to go and find a policeman, or if in a shop or restaurant, a manager, and give them the telephone number to call. It worked! Perhaps my children should insist I do the same with a note of my address!) Eventually, I remembered the four digit number, and gave it to the already confused young lady on the other end of the line! Still (as of today) awaiting a call, in the interim I did a little research. Not wishing to speak out of turn, should I decide to make an appearance, uninvited, but within my rights, at a hearing to give my opinions, I am now au fait with whom requires a license! As the law stands, my mother would need a license to fish. My aunt on the other hand, being born before January 1, 1931, would not. Should the bill pass, my mother and my aunt, would be able to fish unhindered and at no cost. Although both are proficient in the making of bouillabaisse, I doubt either would wish to obtain the ingredients from the source, and as neither live in Texas, my argument to enhance the enjoyment of a day out for the two ladies would seem irrelevant. However, should I be called to give my (most valued, as I was told in response letter from the previous Lieutenant Governor) opinion, I could stand in my stab stained shirt, blue skirt and jacket, with appropriate accessorising boots, elicit the help of a couple of senior actresses from the local amateur dramatics performance of a Miss Marple's production, and let them play the parts of the two English sisters! I shall, of course, present them as 'stand-in's' for the purpose of my evidence! Does one require a license to jest?
The week continued, and Dana had several appointments confirmed, but I had none! However, I take solace in the fact that the Committees in the House of Representatives have not yet (at this day) been assigned, and therefore, no bills can be heard! He did meet with one Representative's office, whom I had called, in support of yet another bill, and they were, apparently, very excited to meet him. In fact, he said, they were very excited to meet the man who was married to the English lady whom was very supportive of their bill, and quoted the constitution to them verbatim! I stood and smiled. They called me a 'lady'! I continued to avoid liquid sustenance.
As I was left 'in charge', I sat at Dana's desk and proceeded to filter through email after email. The minute he left the office, they flooded his in box and I had to send many a server on an expeditious journey. Each retrieved message asked for the papers to be delivered on a rush basis. I told one of our guys in the field that I was thinking about getting a bill filed, one which stopped middle aged men (after all, he plans to live to 124) going out of the office during the day, and leaving their wives to do all the work! He responded by asking if my husband was, again, off to save the world, and wondered how the spandex tights were working for him. I replied that although he saw no problem with it, I did not think that surgical stockings over boxer shorts really had the same effect! At least my sense of humour was still in tact, if my nerves were somewhat frayed!
As I have said before, at each legislative session, the five things that are probably the most exacerbating are as follows: The increase in my load of ironing, (Dana wears shirts to work, rather than the usual teeshirt,) the extra work at the office, (as I have to be myself, and Dana, on a regular basis,) the increase in my load of ironing, the extra work at the office, and the increase in my load of ironing. Everything else pales into insignificance! I would imagine that my idea of exacerbation is somewhat trivial to others, but to each his own!
There were a few more captions that caught my eye (no pun intended) and I shall consider my options at a later date.
For the bills that peek my interest with a raised eyebrow, the plan of action is to await for them to be assigned to a committee and then send the Chair an email with my reasons for approval, or disapproval, as the case may be. Then should said bill be voted on and it be formally agreed that this should be favourably passed on to the next stage, and should the Calendar's committee (how can I put this diplomatically, and dare I say, politically correct) find an appropriate date for said bill to be debated (or not) and subsequently voted upon, on the floor, I will send my opinion as to whether I think my elected official should vote for, or against, said bill.
For those bills that spike my interest, rather than merely leave them peaking, such as the one that would allow my mother and aunt to single handedly gather the ingredients for Crawfish Ettoufee, (although if they were in Louisiana, where the dish is most popular, they would have been able to fish without a license for the past twenty or so years - yes, I have done a lot of homework!) I shall contact the author, and voice my support (or disapproval,) and reasons for said support (or disapproval,) and decide whether I feel strongly enough to let the committee hear the lady with the English accent have her say, or merely send my views upon a written page.
My appearance at any of the offices, committee meetings or other such places, will depend upon Dana's schedule, as ultimately, an opinion voiced, whether verbally or by the pen, is taken into (or not...there I go again, dropping diplomacy and speaking without regard for political correctness) consideration. My husband's main objective is to safeguard the industry which pays our bills and keeps us in bread and butter! Of course, should something be suggested that will affect my family, or friends, in a positive, or negative way, there may be a need for little bit of manoeuvrability!
We still have a long way before the end of the regular session, and my ironing skills may improve with practice, but my attitude will not! However, I am of the school that 'grins and bears', so I shall suffer in silence (or on this page!) I shall continue to be at the helm when necessary, and by the time the session is over, I may know more about fishing than how to dress a salmon (not in a white shirt, blue skirt and jacket with accessorising boots). It may be that should the bill to eliminate the need for a license for seniors gets the votes it needs, and the new Governor signs it into law, I may feel the urge, in ten years time, to take up the challenge. I wonder whether I will still be inspired, when I become one of the said seniors, to write .......... another story!