A LOBBYIST’S LIFE
And Important Juvenile Record Sealing
Changes You Should Know
by Hillary Madsen
tephen Colbert once said, “If I had a dime
for every time that I was wrong, I’d be broke.” Some other folks
said that Washington, one of the only states to sell juvenile
records for profit, would never make juvenile record-sealing
automatic. This 2015 legislative session proved them wrong.
Now those dimes are waiting to be spread around.
I am a staff attorney with Columbia Legal Services working
on the Children & Youth Project. I play many roles in that position — from
litigation to community outreach — but in my role as lobbyist I have learned a
few things, such as: when is a meeting not a meeting?
Meetings, Meetings, Meetings
When you are a lobbyist in Olympia, you invite and are invited to a ton of
meetings. You accept all meeting requests, regardless of whether the requests
conflict. This does not always work well in other professional or personal sectors. Here is an example from the archives of #WhyMarryALawyer:
Husband: So how are we going to get to Bellingham this weekend?
Me: Huh? We’re going to Bellingham?
Husband: You accepted the Outlook meeting request, don’t you
Me: I accept ALL meeting requests. I don’t bother reading
ANY of them!
In lobbying, meeting conflicts do not matter because the times are going
to change anyway, usually about 20 minutes before the meeting is supposed
to start. Someone is running late, or someone more important has bumped
you off the calendar, or the topic of the meeting has drastically changed, so
no meeting — or an entirely new meeting with different people — is necessary.
By the Minute
About a quarter of the way through my first legislative session, I started
living by the hour. Letting go is the lesson. Five-year plan? Ha! Try a five-minute plan. Like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, each day begins without knowing how or when it will end. One day rather famously ended with
me racing from my infant son’s daycare back to the Capitol and thrusting
him into the hands of a co-worker so I could testify in support of a bill that I
had been told was dead only 90 minutes earlier.
This sort of hyper-living-in-the-present, rarely seen outside meditative yoga,
is perhaps ironic because the legislative session is defined by time. Equal parts
Chutes & Ladders and Hunger Games, advocates have a certain number of days
to get a bill through a policy committee, then a budget committee, then a rules