After 45 days of an intense legislative session, I think many of us can agree that it feels more like we’ve aged a few years. These seven weeks brought both the highs that reinvigorated our passion for the issues we fight for, as well as the humbling lows that on some days, brought us to our knees. Yet, through it all we worked together, carrying the same conviction and determination that first led us to the front door of the Utah State Capitol just a few weeks ago.
Admittedly, I will miss the vibrant discussions that both challenged and strengthened my own values and ways of thinking. Whether in committee hearings and floor times on different policies ranging from education, to healthcare, to firearms, and even redistricting, I gained an even deeper respect for many politicians and local advocates alike. I admire those who acted as examples of what it means to maintain integrity and decency in conversation, even when disagreement was very much present and alive.
What both inspired and disheartened me the most this session was the ever-enduring conversation surrounding women’s uteruses, and the shameful display of the need to control a woman’s body. Punitive legislation unsurprisingly manifested on the grounds of the Capitol, and with an election right around the corner, it is no wonder the results were so grim. However, even in the face adversity, I found victories to celebrate – most specifically, the people who showed up on behalf of these issues. I witnessed many strong, educated, and courageous women come together to stand up for not only the right to their own bodily autonomy, but for the rights of all future generations of women to come.
Amazing things truly do happen when good people come together. In fact, another noteworthy example of this was the revival of the breakfast bill. This bill was literally brought back from the dead and passed unanimously through committee. Thankfully, because our community spoke up, more kids will have access to the food they need to help them succeed and thrive in the classroom!
All this to say is, YOUR VOICE MATTERS! The legislative session may be over, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to be quiet. With election season right around the corner, the time to embrace democracy and employ the power of the people is now. So cast your vote and get involved in any way you can, because before you know it, our feet will be pounding on the marble floors of the Utah State Capitol once again.
Kathryn is the political coordinator for Alliance for a Better Utah.