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Amie Clifford On April 2, SCWLA conducted State House Day 2019 in Columbia. Despite the rain (torrential in some parts of the state), a determined group of SCWLA members and some non-members diverged on Columbia. The day began with a CLE program focusing on our state legislative process, the roles of and restrictions on those involved, and opportunities for women lawyers. The wonderful speakers for the CLE program were Bonnie G. Anzelmo, Representative Beth E. Bernstein, Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter, Lawanda Holliman, Governor Henry D. McMaster, Kali Turner, Senator Katrina Frye Shealy, Richele Keel Taylor, Lorri Shealy Unumb, Annie W. Wilson, and Lashawnda Woods-Roberts.

The first two presentations were by panels of lobbyists and social activists who emphasized the need for preparation, organization, and purpose. Two legislators talked about the passion to serve and another emphasized the need to stand up and speak for what is right (even if it means standing up against your political party or caucus).

“We don’t realize the instrument our voices can be. We don’t raise our voices enough.” - Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter

Governor McMaster talked about the need for people to identify issues and bring them forward to legislators and his Office so that they may be addressed. He also spoke about the shortage of women lawyers on state boards and commissions and asked that our members contact his office if interested in serving (see https://governor.sc.gov/executive-branch/boards-and-commissions for more information). He also presented SCWLA with his proclamation of April 2, 2019, as “Women in the Law” Day (the proclamation can be found here).

Our lunch speaker, retired U.S. Army Colonel Lawanda Holliman, not only spoke about the honor and purpose of leading, but also reminded us of something that SCWLA has long stood for – pulling others up behind us as we climb the ladder of success.

After the program ended, a number of the participants walked over to the State House to observe the legislative process in action. A group sat in the balcony of the Senate Chambers and were recognized by Senator Shealy from the floor of the Senate. Some participants walked over to the Blatt building to sit in on House Committee or Subcommittee meetings. As it was within 10 days of the cross-over date (the deadline for bills to pass from one chamber of the legislature to the other) and there were some high-profile bills being discussed, there were a lot of people at the State House and a lot of “energy.” It was exciting and interesting for all who walked over.

The day provided lots of information and encouragement for SCWLA members to get involved in the legislative process and to consider service on a state board or commission. I hope that some of our members feel motivated to act and to make a difference.

- Amie Clifford

 

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