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January 28, 2014 / V A Nichols

A visit to the Alabama Statehouse

Visitor Badge-AL State House2 It can be a good idea to have a sense of humor when we begin a new adventure. I learned this recently.

On a cold January morning, I decided to drive to our state’s capital city and watch Alabama’s elected representatives as they went about the  peoples’ business.

The drive down Interstate 65 from Birmingham toward Montgomery provided a time of contemplation and anticipation. I tried not to have expectations, but I wanted to see what the time taken by the participating populace to vote and our tax dollars had brought us as our representatives.

Alabama State HouseAs I drove down South Union Street, in the heart of Montgomery,  I spotted the Alabama State House located behind the enormously imposing Capital Building.

I smiled as I drove pass, sending a mental message to the State House: ‘Not to worry, I’ll be right back.’  I just had  a little further to go……about three blocks to the Cramton Bowl  free public parking lot.

Briskly taking the short stroll back to the State House, I entered the building, was processed through the security scan and received my visitor’s badge. At this point, my anticipation was becoming heightened, and yet I was surprised to be aware of a feeling of intimidation.

Although I had visited the State House a few times for Lobby Days as an animal advocate, and met with my specific representative,  I thought, this appears to be something that I need to do more often, so that I can feel more comfortable. No citizen of the state of Alabama need feel intimidated in the Alabama State House……it is,  after all, the house of the citizens’ representatives, at least in theory.

House of Rep Gallery Entrance1Finding my way to the elevator, I was soon ascending to the 6th floor, home to the House of Representatives Gallery.

And here is where the healthy sense of humor comes in……as I enthusiastically pushed the door to the House of Representatives Gallery open, I was met by a group of staff members who announced in unison ‘the House adjourned about fifteen minutes ago.’

To think that I was surprised and disappointed would be an understatement. The staff was very cordial, told me to feel at home, and I was able to get pictures most likely not possible if the gallery had been occupied. Here is the Alabama House of Representatives chamber.

Alabama House Chambers4

After sitting in the House Gallery for a few minutes, taking in the ambiance, and imagining the day’s proceedings, it was time to move on to The Alabama Senate Gallery.

First, I had to make my way to the 8th floor of the State House. That was not as straight forward a process as one might think. Returning to the elevator that had brought me to the 6th floor, it was apparent, once inside, that this elevator went only to the 7th floor.

Exiting the elevator on the 7th floor, inquiring of a staff member how to get to the Senate Gallery, a nice lady sympathetically asked if I knew that the Senate had just adjourned. There was that pesky opportunity for  a sense of humor again. Laughing, and sighing, I asked if I could go up and just look around. Graciously saying ‘certainly!,’ she pointed me toward the special elevator  in the corner for the Senate Gallery.

Senate Gallery Entrance2Arriving on the 8th floor, I was struck by the absence of activity and lack of sounds of voices.

The heavy glass doors seemed a gateway to another world.

Pushing the doors open, the intimidating mystique vanished and I found myself in a well-appointed gallery, this time in blue. The Alabama Senate chamber below.

Alabama Senate Chambers1

Sitting for a while, I realized that my quest had been a great experience.  Although all the players had not been on the stage of public service……I had come to this special place……this place where positive changes could be made for the improved protection of Alabama’s animals.

No longer intimidated, instead energized and committed. Committed to coming here again…..and again…..and again. And committed to making a positive difference for Alabama’s animals.

You, too, can come here……and be energized……and recommit yourself to helping Alabama’s animals. It starts with a step toward Montgomery, and your State House………the place where united voices can bring about unexpected positive change for the animals of Alabama.

For all the animals,

Victoria  Nichols

State Director

League of Humane Voters-Alabama

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