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A post-Lame Duck message from MEA's lobbyists

Dec 21, 2016

Thank you.

Our success in thwarting every attack against public education and school employee unions in this month's lame duck legislative session should serve as a lesson and motivation going forward. 

If enough of our members raise their voices, we can influence decision-making. 

Lawmakers were "inundated" with phone calls, emails, and personal contacts from our members during the abbreviated three-week session in December. Some of these legislators were fairly new - elected since the last lame duck - "and they were stunned by the kind of political action our members can do," MEA lobbyist Christina Canfield said. Most impressive, perhaps, was the fact that our attention focused first on protecting school employee pensions from being dismantled - an announced top priority of Republican leaders - but MEA members' political action shifted as the pension issue faded and new attacks were rolled out - including a tax change that would have cut $425 million from the School Aid Fund.

Within a few days, that attack on public education also failed to garner the votes to move forward. 

"That huge rollover of member activity from pension to School Aid Fund was powerful," Canfield said. 

Other potentially damaging bills that didn't pass lame duck would have banned community college payroll deduction and eliminated release time for local leaders to work on school-related issues with their district administrators. 

A special thanks goes out to members who heeded an early Call to Action in November that requested political activists to reach out to lawmakers with questions about the pension issue and report any answers back to lobbyists.  "Your dialogue with legislators provided valuable feedback in our efforts to stop these damaging bills," Canfield said. 

Going forward, it will be important for members to stay engaged with their legislators and build relationships with partners in the community - administrators, parents, and business leaders - who could be important allies.

"We're excited to use the relationships that our members are beginning to form with their legislators in ongoing political action to protect school employees and public education."

For now, she said, it's important to savor the victory and enjoy a holiday break to recharge.