Tea Party at the State Capitol 03-18-2011

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Guest column by Mabel Ryan

On March 8, members of the Ocala Florida Tea Party organization travelled to Tallahassee to join the “Rally to Save Our State” event. There we were joined by nine busloads of other Tea Party members from many areas of Florida. A conservative estimate put the number of Tea Party members present at more than 500. It is believed that it was a greater number than 500 since many members arrived by private transportation and made it impossible to produce hard numbers. The state of Florida Alliance consists of a coalition of over 130 Florida Tea Parties, 9/12, and Patriot groups.

After a short orientation meeting, we joined the 2-hour rally held on the steps of the Old Capitol building. We were blessed with wonderful weather which held in the high 70s all day. The rally was well organized with stirring music, inspirational speakers, and ended with Governor Scott and Lieutenant Governor Carroll visiting and speaking to the crowd. They met and greeted members present, answered questions, and joined in the spirit of the day (much to the consternation of members of their security).

After a short lunch break, those members so inclined broke away from the group to visit their individual legislators. Two members of the Ocala Tea Party spent two hours visiting Representatives Baxley, Perry, and Van Zant. Although we had no appointments, we were warmly welcomed and ample time was provided to have an exchange of information.

We were apprised of impending legislation and given details of bills of much interest to us, especially the bill to provide sonograms to women seeking termination of their pregnancies. When women arrive for pregnancy terminations, included in the cost of the procedure is the cost of a sonogram, but legally the facilitator can and do deny opportunity for the pregnant women to view these sonograms. The clinics use the sonogram to establish gestation periods, which is then used to determine the cost of the termination. The longer the gestation period, the more expensive the procedure.

Under the former administration, this bill was passed by legislation, but was vetoed by former-Governor Crist. Present -Governor Scott has promised that he will sign any such bill passed. When accomplished, this bill will require such clinics to provide the pregnant women an opportunity to view their sonograms. The women can decline to view the image if they so desire, but they must be given the opportunity, and if they decline, they will be required to sign papers that the clinic offered such service.

Among other legislation discussed were details of a bill that would put prayer back into our public schools, and a bill which would make more equitable the distribution of funds from the sale of “Choose Life” license plates.

During the day we were interviewed by two Florida TV station reporters and the United Press Service. From the questions we were asked at these three interviews, it was evident that the media know they can no longer dismiss the political clout of the Tea Party grassroots coalition, and they are adjusting to this new political climate. The 2010 mid-term elections were game changers, and the Tea Party organizations gave new reality to the political community.

The last event of the day was especially productive as we met with 19 of the members of the “Tea Party Caucus.” This caucus consists of conservative Republican legislators and one conservative Democratic legislator. Each member spoke briefly regarding their goals for the upcoming legislative session, and gave details of a process set up whereby members of individual Florida Tea Party groups will have direct contact with their legislators. Each group will have a contact person who will have immediate access to the various legislators. In this way, information can be quickly transferred between the legislature and the Tea Party coalition.

The meeting with the Tea Party Caucus was held in the Senate chambers of the old historic Senate Building. One cannot enter this beautiful old building without being surrounded with a strong sense of history of our state and nostalgia for days gone by.

In only two years the Tea Party movement has made its mark on the political scene and with this momentum, and with God’s help, we will continue to grow and progress until we reverse mistakes made in the past, and bring America back to “We The People”. May it be so.



Mabel Ryan is president, Life Education Ministry, Inc. She can be reached at 352-854-8892.