A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Teens Win a Round on Beacon Hill

Teens Win a Round on Beacon Hill

June 17, 2006

This entry is from our Teen organizer, Amy Katzen:

Members of Teens Leading The Way were excited when An Act Establishing Teen Mental Health Drop-In Centers was reported favorably to The Joint Committee on Health Care Financing in late May. They were also nervous; few legislators from this committee knew the group and there was not much time to change that. Knowing that an executive session was scheduled for Wednesday, June 14, the group targeted their efforts carefully.

A Boston teen took time from her busy finals schedule to meet with staff from Rep. Walrath’s office, answering questions. After receiving encouraging feedback, the group sent letters to all co-sponsors asking for support, and contacted every committee member through letters and phone calls. An effort back in March to identify costs associated with the drop-in centers paid off when we provided this vital information to the committee.

By the day of the executive session, it was all over but the waiting. As our teens sat in school, I went to hear the result of their work. It was remarkable how efficiently Rep. Walrath, Sen. Moore, and Rep. Hargraves bring up a bill, move to have it reported out or put in a study, second the motion, vote, and move to the next bill. They addressed 17 bills before HB 4772, and it probably took three minutes. Then it was our turn, and within moments they had reported it favorably to the House- a major step forward for the legislation and for the group.

It’s difficult to predict what will happen in House Ways and Means; certainly time is short approaching the end of the session. It’s good to know, however, that targeted communication by eloquent youth can make a real difference on Beacon Hill. Click here for more info on this project.