Lobbyists making a final push at Capitol

ALBANY – On any given day at the Capitol, there are roughly 10,000 bills that are in play, 10,000 potential new laws that come up for consideration. The reality is 90% of those bills never see the light of day in either legislative chamber, meaning they won’t be enacted in law.

Lobbyists making a final push at Capitol

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It kind of makes you wonder how lawmakers pick and prioritize the bills that eventually do become laws.

On a typical spring day at the state Capitol, there are thousands of citizen advocates who line the marble corridors outside the legislative chambers who are passionate, persistent, and determined to influence the decision makers of our democracy.

“Having folks up here for these lobby days, it is important because it helps to bring attention,” said Assemblywoman Pat Fahy (D – Albany). “Although, it barely skims the surface of some very complicated issues because we live in a soundbite society.”

On this particular day, there were no fewer than two dozen scheduled news conferences at the Capitol.

On the Million Dollar Staircase, there were lobbyists, lawmakers, and DWI victims pushing to lower the limit for legal intoxication.

Among the anti-fracking advocates outside the Senate chamber was musician Natalie Merchant.

Meanwhile, up on the fourth floor at high noon, rank and file retail workers rallied with union reps hopeful of grabbing the ears of legislators.

The question that lobbyists for any and all causes share in common is: how do you know for sure your efforts aren’t falling on deaf ears?

“Sometimes it could happen quickly,” said Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara (D – Rotterdam). “Sometimes it takes longer, but the bottom line is don’t give up, keep working at it, and keep working on those issues. That’s how things get done. That’s how laws get passed. That’s how bills get advanced. That’s how things get prioritized in the budget.”

Fahy meanwhile says she understands every citizen who walks into the capitol on Lobby Day believes his or her issue is the most important issue in the world.

“That’s a very hard thing to explain to them,” Fahy said.

“I try to attend as many (news conferences) as I can,” Santabarbara added. “I try to look for things that I have a passion for.”

“I’m in the business of showing up,” Fahy said. “I do try and show up to those that I do think need a voice to be amplified, and all of this is about amplifying a voice.”