Effective Public Affairs Advocacy

 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

This has been an incredible year for the Junior League of Tallahassee’s State Public Affairs Committee (SPAC). Our SPAC committee, in coordination with the 24 other leagues throughout Florida, monitors legislation and advocates before the Florida Legislature on issues of importance to our members such as human trafficking, child abuse, domestic violence, juvenile justice, foster care, and education.

What makes our advocacy activities unique? As Junior League members, we are recognized in our communities as non-profit leaders who have knowledge of issues that impact the children and families we serve. We have the opportunity to identify needs we encounter while volunteering and respond by proposing legislation or policy changes to address those needs. We provide a powerful and influential voice for issues and citizens who otherwise don’t have anyone to advocate for them.

During the 2014 legislative session, SPAC was instrumental in supporting several bills that were passed and signed into law by Governor Rick Scott. These bills included allowing young adults without guardians to arrange for their own medical and dental care, allowing parents to put a “freeze” on their child’s credit in order to protect them from identity theft and a requirement that children five and under must ride in a child safety seat when traveling in an automobile. The “booster seat” bill had been a priority of SPAC for 14 years!

In addition to advocating for our legislative priorities, SPAC has made a concerted effort to engage Junior League of Tallahassee (JLT) members in the public affairs process. This year, the committee invited the Leon County Supervisor of Elections office to the September General Membership Meeting to assist members in updating their voter registrations. SPAC spoke at membership meetings and wrote articles for the League Loop about the proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution, the new child safety seat requirements and the Child Identity Theft Prevention Toolkit. SPAC has also welcomed our elected officials to Kids’ Boutique and our president Rebekah Dorn addressed the Leon County Legislative Delegation meeting.

The SPAC committee and JLT leadership hosted a legislative breakfast in January. Our League house was the perfect setting to welcome our legislative delegation, Leon County and City of Tallahassee elected officials as well as the Community Advisory Council. The purpose of the breakfast was to inform policymakers how League activities are making a meaningful impact on the lives of children here in Tallahassee and to present the 2015 SPAC Legislative Priority areas (At-Risk Youth, Health and Hunger, and Literacy). For many attendees, it was their first visit to the League house. This event was an excellent opportunity to get to know policymakers and emphasize the impact JLT has in Tallahassee.

Earlier this month, the SPAC Committee welcomed over 40 members of Junior Leagues from around the state for the annual Junior Leagues of Florida State Public Affairs Winter Conference. During the conference, attendees received updates on SPAC Legislative Priority issues, attended legislative committee meetings and visited their local representatives and senators. The highlight was a reception held at the Governors Club for our state elected officials. The JLT SPAC Committee has the privilege to host the Winter Conference each year, and we look forward to hosting our fellow “leaguers” from around the state. SPAC’s presence in the JLT continues to grow and we are excited to see the results of our efforts. Our voices do matter, and our advocacy makes a difference!

Holly Fuqua Hohmeister
Chair, Statewide Public Affairs Committee
Junior League of Tallahassee

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