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MCR Advocacy Day: How MCR Lobbied for Maryland State Bills and How You Can Lobby Too!

On February 22nd, 2024, over 40 student leaders from across Montgomery County embarked on a journey to Annapolis to participate in the MCR-SGA annual Advocacy Day. Under the guidance of MCR Staff Advisor, Ms. Shella Cherry, students took charge of organizing the entire event. Throughout the day, these students passionately advocated for six bills that represent the interests of MCPS students in the coming years. By dividing into small groups of about eight individuals, students had the unique opportunity to engage in intimate, one-on-one discussions with legislators, making this event exceptionally valuable for MCPS high schoolers.

According to Alexander Allin, an MCR-SGA Advocacy Initiatives Coordinator, "Advocacy Day involves a few key components: emailing legislators, identifying bills, and forming groups." In his role as Coordinator, Mr. Allin played a crucial role in drafting the resolution for one of the bills MCR lobbied for (Legally Protected Health Care - Gender-Affirming Treatment) and provided support to his group by preparing them for both the discussions and the overall structure of the event.

Each group, led by an Advocacy Initiatives Coordinator, engaged in discussions with legislators and their aides. Other students then had the opportunity to introduce themselves and express their passion for the bill they advocated for. Drawing from personal experiences, research, prepared talking points, and practice, students communicated effectively and professionally. They were encouraged to personalize their pitches and use their authentic voices to drive change.

The bills advocated for by MCR directly impact the lives of high schoolers in MCPS. For instance, HB691/SB119 aimed to ensure that gender-affirming treatment is considered "legally protected healthcare," thereby prohibiting discrimination against health professionals who provide such treatments. This is especially significant in MCPS' diverse environment, particularly for students who identify as gender non-conforming. Students also advocated for SB373, which proposed allowing counties to lower the voting age to 16 for Board of Education member elections, and SB056/HB163, which sought to establish a grant program to support composting, food waste prevention, and food rescue projects. Additionally, MCR prioritized bills aimed at educational improvements, such as SB033/HB837 proposing certifications and apprenticeships as equivalent to post-secondary education, HB074 proposing commendation for schools that provide health and safety trainings, and HB569/SB395 proposing that all ESOL courses be eligible for college credit.

For students or clubs interested in organizing their own Advocacy Days, Mr. Allin advises to "research the legislative system and be confident." Meeting with legislators enables students to have a significant impact in ensuring that their priority bills do not languish in committee, as many do throughout the Maryland General Assembly. Those interested in attending future MCR-SGA Advocacy Days (which encompass local, state, and national policy) should stay updated once MCR resumes meetings for the next school year.

Written by Lily Scheckner

Published by the Communications Department


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