After POPS, we drove from Dana Point to Sacramento for Ocean Day – March 24. There we met our group leader Sarah Sikich from Heal the Bay, who helped us lobby for SB 270 (California statewide bag ban), SB 1132 (moratorium on fracking), and AB 1699 (ban on polyethylene micro-beads in personal hygiene products). We camped out at KOA Campgrounds by night, and lobbied in the state capital by day. We were fortunate to meet other members of the Clean Seas Coalition like Kirsten James (Heal The Bay), Nancy Hastings (Surfrider Foundation), Nathan Weaver (Environment California), and Leslie Tamminen (7th Generation Advisors).
We met with eight very diverse assembly members, from the most liberal Democrats to the most conservative Republicans. We learned a great deal about government as well as policy-making, including the 2 to 1 ratio of assembly members (80) to senators (40), the process a bill goes through to get passed, and the priorities of many Republicans (that they generally value economics over human and environmental health). Although we mostly met with staffers, we met with Assemblywoman Sheryl Brown, Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, and previous mayor of Santa Monica, Assemblyman Richard Bloom. We expressed our gratitude to Bloom for authoring SB 1699 and for his bill that bans orcas in captivity. When a handful of representatives expressed concerns about the ten cent fee for a paper bag and its impact on the lower class, we explained the programs that distribute reusable bags to less the fortunate such as “ Give A Bag” and “Share A Bag“. We divided our overall message amongst team members so each person could contribute their own elevator pitch concerning economic benefits, environmental impacts and effects, and supporting evidence. Our evidence included our bag research results indicating that bag bans do work effectively. Ultimately, we learned that sound science and arguments centered on economics and human and environmental health are what resonate with politicians.