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Sunday, February 10, 2008

How to spend a day at the Capitol

The following is an email to our homeschool group about hanging out at the Capitol, I believe the same directions apply to any trip to the Capitol with only minor modifications. Does anyone have anything to add?

I am the Chair for the Legislative Committee and would like to offer a task. One of the most important things we, as homeschoolers, can so is to remind our legislators how well the Missouri law is working and how grateful we are for their support. We are so fortunate that the tremendous resource of the Capitol is right in our backyard, it would be a shame to not use it. So here is my task for all of you: make a visit this month. If you only have 30 minutes, that's fine, if you have all day, even better! Here are some suggestions to make your trip successful:

  • Before you go, write a short (one to two paragraph) story about your family and why homeschooling is important to you and any changes you would like to the law or things you love about the law, eg: wanting a tax credit for curriculum, freedom to tailor education, choice of year-round or other unconventional schedule, etc. You might also include any awards the kids have received or goals they have been able to reach because of homeschooing or even a family photo! Make about four copies of this letter.

  • Stop by the desk in the Rotunda (use the front entrance that is under the big stairs facing High St.) and ask for a list of the Senators and Representatives. If you don't know yours, then they can help you figure it out. If it is a nice day, you might also want to pick up a copy of the "walking tour of the Capitol grounds" (that might not be the exact name) to get an art and history lesson out of the visit, as well as the social studies. This guide explains all the sculptures outside the Capitol and is really interesting.

  • Visit your Senator (for most of us it is Carl Vogel, office 321 http://www.senate.mo.gov/08info/members/mem06.htm) and drop off your letter. If the Senator is in the office, try to talk to him or her directly, if not the Legislative Assistant (LA) is almost as important. Talk to him or her the same way you would the Senator, he or she plays a very important role in what is brought to the Senator's attention and how the Senator perceives an issue. If your Senator is Vogel, then enjoy a free soda out of the cooler, his family owns the local Coca-cola distributorship.

  • Visit your Representative (same as in Senate office.)

  • Stop by Secretary of State Robin Carnahan's office, room 208. Here you can get a free copy of the Blue Book, you just have to ask and sign that you have received it. This book is amazing! It has the answer to any question about Missouri you could have: bios of all the legislators, election results, schools, history, winners of a photo contest (one winner is a Kempf, is she a homeschooler?), addresses of newspapers, and much more. You can also get a small packet of educational things for each kid. While you are there say, "hello," to Milton for me and my kids and get a piece of candy, he always has chocolate! He is one of the friendliest people in the Capitol, if you ever have a question about ANYTHING (including the Chiefs), he should be your first stop.

  • Enjoy the museums on the main floor and the paintings and old photos on the upper floors. There is a new exhibit of the battleship Missouri that is really cool on the main floor that has a scale replica, huge bell, and other artifacts.

  • If you have more time, ask one of your reps to take you to the Whispering Gallery at the top of the Capitol, from there you can even go outside and see the whole city! This is a looong walk up lots of stairs, so be prepared for some exercise. If your rep is too busy, try asking Representative Jim Viebrock, room 407A http://www.house.mo.gov/billtracking/bills081/member/mem134.htm. ; He is super nice and will do everything he can to make time to take you up there. You can also tell him, "hello" from the kids and me if you'd like.

Fun links:
Senate kids page: http://www.senate.mo.gov/kidspage/index.html
State government home page: http://www.mo.gov/
How a bill becomes a law: http://www.house.mo.gov/billtracking/info/habbl.pdf

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