By Justin Filla, Young Activist Leader and PJALS Intern

Attending this year’s Lobby Day in Olympia on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day while representing the Peace and Justice Action League was a great experience. Washington Community Action Network did a great job organizing this event. This was my second trip to Olympia to do lobbying but this trip was on completely different issues. Before we met with our Legislators, everyone met at the Capitol Theater for a reception and to go over the day’s agenda. We then all organized together with a few other organizations and marched up to the steps of the Legislative Building where an Action and Rally for Racial Justice took place. There was roughly 300 participants in the rally on the steps with about 75 of them being from the Spokane area. There was some great stories that were told with one of them being from Michelle Little, another PJALS intern.

Once the rally was over we had a quick lunch and then met with our legislators. I live in the 6th District so I was to meet with Michael Baumgartner, Kevin Parker, and Jeff Holy. We were able to sit down and talk with Kevin Parker and Jeff Holy and tell them personal stories on why they should raise revenue to support health care reform and why they should support a capital gains tax.

My favorite part of the entire trip was hearing Wendla Fryer’s personal story that she told to the legislators that we met with. She has overcome many obstacles and depends on many programs to survive. Over the past few years she has felt the cuts first hand and she asked Jeff Holy and Kevin Parker to stop cutting benefits she depends on and to find ways to raise revenue so that these services stay.

I feel that the discussions were able to get our side across and they were willing to listen to the personal stories. Apparently Michael Baumgartner was not available for us to sit down and have a talk with him but we did give his aid a letter with PJALS’ legislative agenda.

Overall this trip was a great experience and I am looking forward to future trips to Olympia to lobby for issues that are of concern to PJALS and myself.