A Day at the Capitol

Last Thursday, the IMF and LLS invited advocates from across Wisconsin to the Capitol in Madison to share their personal stories of cancer with legislators and how the Cancer Treatment Fairness Act will help them. I was very excited to attend the event and support some of our amazing advocates. It was wonderful to meet so many of the people I speak to on a regular basis in person and spend time with them making a difference in their home state.  

Here is a photo blog of my trip to Wisconsin:

postcards in my houseBefore I left for Wisconsin, I entered, sorted, and packaged over 300 postcards to deliver to legislators thanks to the hard work our Wisconsin advocates put in over the last year asking their friends and families to support myeloma patients.

Christina Lee from LLS and I getting everything set before the advocates arrive

I arrived on Wednesday and spent the day working with Christina Lee from LLS. We put together packets for the advocates that included information on the legislation and each of the legislators they would meet. We also created packets of information to leave behind with each legislator. On Thursday morning, Christina and I finished up sorting materials before advocates arrived for breakfast.

Dee George from LLS going over the Cancer Treatment Fairness Act with advocates

We started the morning with a productive advocacy training, which included the details of the legislation and tips to a successful meeting with a legislator. We found out that for many advocates this was their first time meeting with State Representatives and State Senators.

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Therefore, Christina, LLS’s Dee George, and I demonstrated what a meeting might look like to get the advocates feeling more comfortable and confident.

 Then we were off to the Capitol for our meetings!

Representative Melissa Sargent and Mary Polancih

Representative Melissa Sargent and Mary Polancih

My first meeting of the day was with Action Team Leader Mary Polancih and her State Assemblywoman Melissa Sargent, who is a co-sponsor of the Cancer Treatment Fairness Act. As a supporter, Mary asked Representative Sargent to help garner support from other members of the Assembly and armed her with talking points to do just that.

Sue Krist and Tom Chelius

Sue Krist and Tom Chelius

Sue Krist and Action Team Leader Tom Chelius had a morning meeting with Representative Adam Neylon’s legislative aide. Tom reported on Facebook: “Just got out of a meeting with Rep Neylon’s legislative assistant. The meeting went very well and I think we have a supporter when the bill hits the floor for a vote.” Tom did an excellent job documenting the day for folks who were unable to join us.

Dick Skalitzky and Claudia Whitty

Dick Skalitzky and Claudia Whitty

Dick Skalitzky along with Claudia and Don Whitty met with Senator Gudex. Dick had met with the Senator in June to ask for his support of the bill. In June Sen. Gudex’s response was that he would think about it. In their meeting on Thursday, he thanked Dick for their meeting in June and reported he did think about it, read up on it, and decided to support the bill! That is why meeting with your legislators is so critical!

We were very lucky to have a home base in the North Hearing Room on the second floor of the capitol. In this room, advocates met between meetings to fill out meeting reports, eat lunch, and regroup for their next meetings. Advocates took a few shots of our home base:

Tom Chelius practiced his runway walk down the hearing room aisle.

Tom Chelius practiced his runway walk down the hearing room aisle.

Some advocates had little time between meetings so they ate lunch and completed paperwork at the same time.

Some advocates had little time between meetings so they ate lunch and completed paperwork at the same time.

Christina and I were rarely in the room together, but when we were, we checked in to make sure everything was on track for the day. 

Aimee Martin and Christina Lee

Aimee Martin and Christina Lee

Jen Grandkosky writing a Letter to the Editor in support of SB 300

Jen Grandkosky writing a Letter to the Editor in support of SB 300

Additionally, some advocates like Maggie Murphy and Judy Cline, who had a long break between their meetings, helped deliver information packets to legislators with whom we were not meeting. Along with the bill information, legislators received postcards from their constituents who could not attend on Thursday asking for their support.

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Maggie Murphy and Judy Cline

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Postcard gifts for legislators.

Members of the Racine Multiple Myeloma Support Group were out in force last week. I was able to get a before and after picture of the group. Here they are starting the day: Janice Krukowski, Linda O’Connell, Linda Chowa, Mary Sandberg, and Art Hood, joined here with lymphoma survivor Maia Miller and her husband Walter.

Racine Support Group Members ready for a packed day of meetings!

Racine Support Group Members ready for a packed day of meetings!

 

Linda O'Connell and Mary Sandberg

Linda O’Connell shares about her experience receiving treatment for multiple myeloma.

I was able to join the group for two of their visits. The first was with Rep. Cory Mason’s legislative aide. Rep. Mason is a cosponsor of AB 392, therefore the group asked if he would expand his support by speaking to his colleagues about the importance of this legislation. The second was with Sen. Lehman, also a supporter of the bill. 

The group was in one of the most important meetings of the day with Speaker of the House Robin Vos. They their shared stories and listened to his concerns about the legislation. LLS Director of Public Policy Lisa Nelson joined them for this meeting to address the Speaker’s questions and educate him on the details of AB 392.

Mary shares with Speaker Robin Vos about a support group member who could not attend.

Mary shares with Speaker Robin Vos about a support group member who could not attend.

In addition to the three legislators mentioned above, the group also met with Rep. Peter Barca, Sen. Bob Wrich, and Rep. Tom Weatherston. I caught up with the group as they were filling out their meeting report forms and writing letters to the editor in the break room before they headed home.

At the end of the day, they were tired but excited they were able to make a difference advocating on behalf of group members who have suffered from high costs for their oral anticancer treatments.

Racine group after a hard days work!

Racine group after a hard days work!

Mary Sandberg reported to me today that they shared their experience at the Racine Support Group Meeting on November 11. Their support group was thrilled to learn about their experiences in Madison and thanked them for being a voice for those in the group who were unable to attend.

Overall, it was an amazing day in Madison. Everyone left the Capitol excited about the prospects for the Cancer Treatment Fairness Act. Personally, I left truly inspired by the group of people I work with in Wisconsin and thrilled to be able to support them through the IMF. This week many of them will be back at the Capitol on Wednesday for the Assembly Health Committee public hearing to show the support behind the bill. For many this will be their third time in just over a month that they have made the trip to Madison! I cannot say thank you enough to all of our advocates, even if you simply sent an email or made a phone call to your legislator. Using your voice and contacting them by any means makes a difference to the many patients whose lives will be saved by Wisconsin becoming the 28th state to pass this type of legislation! If you haven’t sent an email to your Wisconsin State Senator or Assemblymember, please click here.

Thank you! Thank you!

Yours in Action,
Aimee Martin

PS. If you would like to see more photos from Mission Day click here to visit our Facebook photo album. 

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