One of my earliest memories is of attending President Gerald Ford’s campaign rally in 1976 with my dad. The president was on a whistle stop tour of the Midwest when he stopped near our little Illinois town. I sat on the hillside and watched the crowd gather across the tracks from a typical Midwestern corn field. As the train pulled up, my dad set me on his shoulders so I could see over the crowd as the president and Mrs. Ford waved from the platform of the caboose. It is one of my clearest childhood memories.
That day didn’t change my political position. I was six. I didn’t have one. But it opened me up to the world of civics and government and all things political. It was the first time I can remember being interested in anything outside of my six-year-old world. I began watching the news each night with my mom, looking for that man I saw riding in the caboose. And when election night came, I learned about the transition of power as someone else took his place.
A few years later, Schoolhouse Rock (and later on a college professor) taught me how a bill becomes a law. As an adult, one of my first jobs was in a Topeka TV newsroom covering the Kansas Statehouse. Later, I followed Bob Dole in his presidential bid while I worked at a Wichita station. I covered Senate races and school board elections… committee hearings and town council meetings.
It wasn’t so much the politics that intrigued me. It was the stories behind the bills and laws – the people who were affected. I was a witness to history and I got to share that information with the public. It was fascinating.
Now, I get to do it again. Sorta.
A few months ago, the Chamber membership approved some by-law changes, one of which allows me to share legislative information with you. It doesn’t mean advocating or taking sides. It means simply sharing the language of the bill and its status so you can stay aware of what is going on in Topeka. Of course, the information will include bills relating to COVID-19 relief, but it might also include proposals for a minimum wage increases (there are two bills in Topeka right now), legislation that would effect occupational licensing and regulation, as well as revisions to workers’ compensation laws.
My job isn’t to tell you what to think about these bills… and I won’t. I was raised an old school journalist. It is just to let you know they are there, so you can make up your own mind and act as you see fit.
We hope this new approach will add even more value to your Chamber membership and believe it will help your business not only survive, but thrive.