My doctor knew he had to get me out of the hospital before Tuesday. On Sunday afternoon when they were questioning if I was really ready to go home I was like get me out of here I can handle this at home and have to testify Tuesday. My doctor would not allow me to drive to the capital of Illinois in Springfield which is nearly 4 hours from me. So my younger sister took me. We left yesterday a little after 9am. It was nice to have someone to talk to in the car. I am so use to traveling alone.
We arrived at the capital and shortly after we met up with Chief Langloss and Sargeant Brad from Dixon Illinois. Chief Langloss met me when he heard me speak last February at a conference in Dixon and helped me with my mission on Erin’s law and getting me in touch with Republican Senator Tim Bivins also from Dixon. ( Interesting fact: President Ronald Regan was born and raised in Dixon, IL a small town).
The meeting began at 3pm before the Elementary and Secondary Committee there were 6 bills to be heard. Unlike when I testified to the Senate in May I didn’t go first. The first to go was believe it or not the University I got my Masters Degree from. They were trying to get a bill passed. Well the President of the University talked forever. They made the mistake of letting her talk and it killed their bill. There were 5 other bills needing to be heard and suddenly in walks Speaker of the House Mike Madigan. There was another meeting to begin at 4pm with Mike Madigan and other House majority leaders. Suddenly they say over the intercom “We need to recess until tomorrow morning the rest will be heard then.” I am like “What I came all the way down here for nothing besides a parking ticket.” We knew our parking meter was up over an hour ago. I couldn’t stay my sister had to get back to work tomorrow. Billie Larkin the President of all Illinois Children’s Advocacy Centers was sitting behind me and said “Erin don’t worry we will get you a hotel.” I am like how do I get back tomorrow. My sister is like take Amtrak back. I sat there thinking I have no clothes and then it dawned on me I looked at my sister and Billie Larkin and said “I can’t stay the night I am on a bunch of prescription drugs that I don’t have and will not put my health in jeopardy.
Jerry Mitchell House Sponsor of Erin’s Law who I spoke to earlier came up to me and said, “I am so sorry we have to wait until tomorrow someone should of stopped the other bill from taking so long.” I said, “Jerry I can’t stay the night I have a bunch of medication I have to take.” I was mad and Jerry was mad too. Speaker of the House Mike Madigan is still standing by the door and several people were getting up from the committee and leaving. Jerry Mitchell runs up to the mic and looks at the committee “I have a woman that traveled 3 hours to get here.” I put my hand up in the air and said “4 hours”. Another man who came to testify sat down at the table and said, “I traveled far to get here too and I will only take 180 seconds of your time.” Jerry Mitchell was on fire he was very angry and then grabbed the mic and said, “The woman I have here to testify has been in the hospital and was released from the hospital just to testify.” I was like OMG how did he know I was in the hospital and actually I was already released Sunday night but heck if it will work to get me to testify then keep going and I did push my doctors to let me go so I could testify Tuesday. Jerry looks at me and says, “Erin come sit down.” He tells me to sit down in front of the Education Committee. Several standing around talking and about to leave some had already left. The other man who came to testify starts going. Soon after Jerry Mitchell starts to introduce SB2843 Erin’s law before they even voted on the other bill. My sister started video taping and you will notice in the video tape Jerry Mitchell being stopped because they voted on the other bill.
I felt like everyone in the room just wanted to leave and several people standing by the door. The good thing was Speaker of the House Mike Madigan got to hear me which was not suppose to happen. If it was everything I had planned to say I usually talk for around 8 minutes this time I spoke for about 2 minutes. I felt like I had more of there attention then the bill that was the first to go that went on for an hour. It seemed many in the committee were talking, getting up and moving around, saw two people on the committee on their phones, etc when the other people were testifying taking up all the time. I think because Jerry Mitchell pushed the point that I had come so far and was released from the hospital just to testify they gave me the opportunity to hear it. He later told me this never happens after a recess has been called. However they did not vote like planned after all they already recessed and Jerry Mitchell pulled all the stops and was red ear to ear because he knew what I had done to make sure I got there. I felt like I spoke so fast but everyone that was with me told me I did an excellent job. I felt like I could of done better but under the circumstances we were in I felt extremely rushed and seeing the Speaker of the House Mike Madigan waiting for his meeting, but I was told it was Mike Madigan that allowed me to testify. Hmm maybe he got some of my many letters and supporters letters! 🙂
After I was done testifying there was no vote they said Jerry Mitchell will speak tomorrow on Erin’s law SB2843 in the morning to the Education Committee again where they will vote but I was told the good thing was several of them did get to hear from me. After it is voted on by the Education Committee this morning it will be sent this afternoon to the entire House floor to be voted on and then it will be sent back to the Senate floor to be voted on because of an amendment we added and then the Governor of Illinois has 60 days to sign Erin’s law if everything passes.
Shortly after I said my very brief and to the point testimony Jerry Mitchell told me 5 people from Education Committee already approached him and want to sign on to Erin’s law by being a co-sponsor. He looked at me and said, “Erin you should have all yes votes tomorrow you delivered a powerful message.”
He is going to be calling me throughout the day and let me know what happens with the outcoming of the voting down at the capital.
You can watch the video of me briefly testifying here.