Boy: Woof! You sure gotta climb a lot of steps to get to this Capitol Building here in Washington. But I wonder who that sad little scrap of paper is?
As a kid I was a huge fan of Schoolhouse Rock - those ingenious 2 minute cartoons sandwiched between Saturday morning shows that taught math, science, grammar and history.
But my favorite, all-time knock down drag out favorite is "I'm Just a Bill".
Boy: Gee, Bill, you certainly have a lot of patience and courage.
Bill: Well I got this far. When I started, I wasn't even a bill, I was just an idea. Some folks back home decided they wanted a law passed, so they called their local Congressman and he said, "You're right, there oughta be a law." Then he sat down and wrote me out and introduced me to Congress. And I became a bill, and I'll remain a bill until they decide to make me a law.
In some ways the love of "I'm Just a Bill" clearly inspired me to go into public policy. It planted the seeds of a belief that government can make a difference. Like making school buses stop at train tracks.
Boy: Listen to those congressmen arguing! Is all that discussion and debate about you?
Bill: Yeah, I'm one of the lucky ones. Most bills never even get this far. I hope they decide to report on me favourably, otherwise I may die.
Bill: Yeah, die in committee. Oooh, but it looks like I'm gonna live! Now I go to the House of Representatives, and they vote on me.
Boy: If they vote yes, what happens?
Bill: Then I go to the Senate and the whole thing starts all over again.
Boy: Oh no!
Bill: Oh yes!
Since arriving at my current job in 2007, I have been trying to pass a new state law that creates a structure to ensure federally subsidized, yet privately owned, buildings with contracts ending somehow remain affordable. Versions of this bill have existed in some form or another in the State House for over 15 years.
Since getting a panicked phone call in April, 2008 I've been working to reopen a state loan program that helps to remove lead paint from low-income families homes.
Clearly I don't do this work alone. There was a team of folks and I was part of a great team in both cases.
The new almost law is An Act Preserving Publicly Assisted Housing. I write almost because while both branches of the legislature unanimously passed this bill and enacted it last week, we are still awaiting the Governor's signature. My organization worked in coalition with other groups - housing advocates, elder advocates, faith-based groups and others to get this bill passed.
The state government program, Get the Lead Out, reopened on October 28th with money we successfully advocated for during the last state budget process.
So in honor of both those items, and to explain my work, I bring you I'm Just a Bill from Schoolhouse Rock.
Bill: Oh yes!!!
Can you point to a song and say "yup, that made me what I am today". Do you dare admit it?
Please join in Music Monday. Just leave a note if you play, write a post about music and link back to me. Music always makes Monday a bit more fun.
And we have a player!
Mo'Jenn - Simple pleasures