Testimony Shoes

I never thought I’d find myself testifying in front of the Minnesota Senate and the House of Representatives. But that is exactly what happened to me in mid-March. I found myself wearing VERY unfamiliar shoes.

On March 12, I went down to the Senate to watch and hear the TCE Ban Bill #2075 introduced by Senators Roger Chamberlain, Chuck Wiger and Jason Isaacson. This is a key piece of legislation that will ban the use of TCE in the State of Minnesota. And hopefully prevent another community from going through what we’ve gone through with Water Gremlin.

While at the Senate, we were told there may be an opportunity for citizens to testify in support of the Bill the next day.  

I’m not an activist nor a political person. I’m also not very comfortable talking in front of large groups. But I summoned my courage, understanding this was a critically important opportunity to contribute and tell my story about the Water Gremlin situation to lawmakers who can help us enact change. Change that would make sure other communities will not have their environment polluted and their health jeopardized by toxic emissions we now know have polluted the communities of White Bear Lake, White Bear Township and Gem Lake for 17 + years.

I didn’t have much time to prepare. Sitting in my seat and waiting to be called, I quickly scribbled some notes about what I believed was important to tell our legislators. I spoke from the heart and my emotions were right on the surface. I was initially embarrassed at my inability to hold it together, to keep my voice from cracking with emotion, but looking back I think it was a good thing that I showed our lawmakers how upsetting this issue is for many of us. I’m told the testimony was powerful and made an impact.

Our Representative, Ami Wazliwak, has done an amazing job in her support of the Bill #2075. As our primary Champion in the House of Representatives, her work led to the Bill passing in the House on April 1st. Great news!

You can view Ami’s presentation of the Bill here.

I learned a lot about the legislative process during the few hours I invested those days. Such as you need to sign-up in advance ‘on the schedule’ in order to testify. I learned how to monitor the status of Bills on the Minnesota Senate webpage at https://www.senate.mn/.  And I encourage those of you reading this to do just that.  

Go to the Senate webpage and sign-up for the “track my Bills” feature.  Keep an eye on Bill #2075 and on #2368 (a related piece of legislation). Get involved. If you’re able, go down to the Senate. Contact our Legislators and ask them to support these Bills.

I learned I’ve got the courage to do things I never thought I’d be doing because of the importance of this issue.  Because on that day, I was given the privilege to be the voice of our communities.  My voice made a difference.  And you have that same chance.  Your voice will matter.  

Sheri S.