Five members of Salamander Savers waited in the Senate Gallery for HB 459. We have learned so much from this journey and listened to so many Delegates and Senators present bills that they were passionate about. We learned that just being passionate does not make a bill become a law, and sometimes it is hard to find common ground on things that seem to be simple on the surface. Our bill passed through 39-1, and we left the gallery elated. But the next question in our minds was how long before the Governor would sign the bill into law? The session ends on March 9, so it must be sometime before then.
Richmond, VA – Members of Salamander Savers sat in Senate Room 3, waiting for the Senate Committee on General Laws and Technology to vote on HB 459. Salamander Savers was joined by representatives from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Virginia Herpetological Society. Delegate Filler-Corn presented the bill that would name the red salamander as the state salamander of Virginia. Before the vote was cast, Senator Black spoke on behalf of Salamander Savers and acknowledged their advocacy efforts. He then produced a photograph of the red salamander, which was given to him by club members earlier that week. After displaying the photograph to his colleagues, Senator Black demanded that they vote in favor of HB 459 because the red salamander was “cute as a button.” The bill passed committee 14-1. Salamander Savers hopes that HB 459 will pass into a law later this week.
Yesterday Salamander Savers 4-H club braved the weather and made it to Richmond. Even though the schedule changed multiple times that day, everyone made the most of being at the Capitol. Senator Black was kind enough to welcome us to the Senate chamber where we watched several bills being voted on and the kids got to learn the process of how a bill becomes a law first hand. We were thrilled that he made his way up to the gallery just to meet us! We wandered into the Old Senate and House Chambers and learned a little bit about the history and it's architect, Thomas Jefferson. Then it was time to lobby in the Senate, asking for support of HB459. Several of our members went room to room searching out Senators and their legislative assistants to tell them about the red salamander. We were fortunate enough to catch Senator Black in the hallway where he answered many of our questions and swapped salamander photos with us. We are truly grateful for all the time that Senator Black gave us and the fantastic stories about the swamps of Florida that he shared with us. It made the day memorable. Finally we were called into the Committee on General Laws and Technology where the kids were able to address the Senators and explain why we feel HB459 should become a law. The Committee will be voting next Monday where we are hoping it will pass and then eventually make it to the Senate floor. We are one step closer!
Members of Salamander Savers watched as the red salamander slipped one step closer to becoming the state salamander of Virginia. Five young environmentalists didn’t stop long to celebrate their victory, instead they walked over to the Senate office buildings and started lobbying for the next round of voting that will happen in the upcoming weeks. Salamander Savers hopes that soon the red salamander will be a state emblem and raise awareness for salamander populations across the state.
We were fortunate to be interviewed by ABC news about the kids efforts to promote the red salamander and their work with the HB459. Evanne Armour was patient with all of our questions and took time to draw out each child's individual experience through the process of promoting the bill. We are so grateful to her for the piece that she did on us because she really did highlight what we thought was the most important part of this legislative process. She helped us give salamanders a spotlight and for that we are truly grateful. Thank you Evanne and ABC news!
Here are some highlights: