About 10 days ago I asked this question:
A few blogs picked up on this, the SC tea party community exchanged some emails and Facebook comments, and several folks took it upon themselves to contact their representatives asking that same question, bolstered by this FANTASTIC article by Michael F. Cannon of The Cato Institute, which I also cited on our Spartanburg Tea Party website.
Ralph who is a tea partier from the other side of the state shared his plan of action with me; he contacted his Rep. Nelson Hardwick (R) (who was a co-sponsor of the bill) in a series of respectful, informative emails, backed up by the information from Michael Cannon and his own good common sense. Two days later Ralph told me Rep. Hardwick withdrew his name as a sponsor of House Bill H-3738!
Yesterday around 2:45 PM Talbert Black of Campaign for Liberty who is the anchor for all the liberty groups in Columbia when it comes to letting us know what's going on at the Statehouse alerted us:
... the Ways and Means committee, chaired by Rep. Dan Cooper (R), intends to bring H3738, the Health Care Exchange bill up tomorrow, Tuesday the 29th, even though it is not on their agenda. It seems they want to give it a favorable vote without anyone there to witness it. However, if we can fill the room, then our supporters on the committee have said they will be brave enough to make a motion to send the bill back to sub-committee... effectively killing the bill. In order for this to work, we need everyone there in committee. We need to fill the room!
Plans were made, emails were sent, phone calls commenced. Around 4:30 we received this message:
Chairman Cooper has asked to send the below message to the entire caucus. H. 3738, "the SC Health Exchange Benefit Act" will not be placed on tomorrow's Ways and Means Committee agenda. This is misinformation on someone's part. Feel free to inform your constituents.
YAY! I sent out an email to our tea party letting them know to "stand down" but also informing them how just our intended presence and all our work in the past few years of being the legislative watchdogs had an impact. This message was from Talbert to the tea party legion:
Even if you didn’t have a chance to contact your representative yet, the knowledge that your calls would soon be pouring in has had the desired effect! First, let me say this was no false alarm. I had independent confirmation from two sources that the intention was to sneak this bill through committee tomorrow. Second, the voice of South Carolina’s people is powerful! This was averted because of you.
Talbert also informed us that he had received an email from Ways and Means Chairman Dan Cooper letting him know that "due to its controversial nature" he chose not to add it to the agenda for the day. Oh yes. And this one last thing. Dan Cooper is removing his name as co-sponsor of the bill because "it seems he got some incorrect advice on the bill."
I enjoyed the Tea Party rallies I've attended over the past few years. I was inspired by the protests and marches, which served to show us just how many other Americans feel the same way we do. However, at this point in time the work of the Tea Party is just that ... to work. To call. To email. To show up. To argue and persuade. To be present when and where we need to be. To inform citizens, and bring them with us to speak to those in power.
Yesterday in South Carolina, thanks to Talbert and the many Tea Party/liberty group leaders around the state, we did that.