Back in May (2014), I made a trip to Frankfort to catch up with a school group that was taking a daylong field trip around the historic sites of the Capitol City. The Heritage Christian Academy Warriors (4th graders) have made a trip up to the Capitol both years I've been in office, and like any other school group visiting during the interim (when I'm not already up there for session) if I can I make the trek to Frankfort too meet them. I hate missing a chance to visit with school kids about the job I'm blessed to have — one of these kids from the district is going to have this job one day in the future!
I caught up with the group and took them to the Senate chamber and had a chance to talk to them for nearly 45 minutes. They asked all kinds of questions and I gave all kinds of answers! Since we had the room to ourselves and plenty of time, I explained a lot about the kind of things we do, good and bad. One of the students asked if I had ever been scared doing my job. Interesting question. Easy answer. Yes.
I've been nervous before, about speaking or carrying a bill on the floor, but those are just nerves about sounding stupid or saying something inaccurate or embarrassing. Fear, on the hand, hasn't been felt nearly as often. In fact, I can only think of one occasion. Carrying Senate Bill 8, the "ultrasound bill," in the House Health & Welfare Committee. The bill, just like others over the years before now, had come out of the Senate and died at the hands of a pro-choice Committee Chairman and pro-choice House leaders — some publicly and unabashedly, and others under cover of anonymity and secret, if not outright deceit. This year, the bill had sat without a hearing in the House Health & Welfare Committee for over two months when a discharge petition was filed in the house. A discharge petition, if passed by a simple majority (51 of 100), would remove the unheard bill from the Committee and bring it before the full House for a vote on the floor. This year, despite 61 co-sponsors of a house bill that contained SB8 language, 49 democrats and a couple of republicans (many of whom brag on themselves for co-sponsoring the same kind of bill) either walked out on the discharge petition vote or simply failed to show up for it at all. The petition failed to pass. Naturally, the next move of House leadership was to hear the bill in Committee - it's an election year so they can't ignore the bill altogether. That's where I come in.
The House Health & Welfare Committee is perceived, fairly or unfairly, as unfriendly territory for conservatives. Liberals control the membership head count, and the tension between committee members of opposite ideologies is palpable and sometimes expressly shown. Even the committee members themselves refer to the committee by its common nickname "Hell & Warfare." This was the lions' den, and I was ordered to march in knowing legislative defeat was certain.
I approached my testimony with great fright, believing I would be attacked or my words twisted by the committee members or the media or both. But I carried on. I presented the bill calmly and directly, explaining the bill didn't actually do anything to expressly restrict abortion at all (no matter how much I wish would).
My testimony fell on more deaf ears than not. Those who wish to protect abortion rights made half-true claims about the bill, and particularly galling was the act by two of the most fiercely prochoice members of the committee to make the initial motion and second for the bill to be voted on — they knew they had numbers.
I explained the situation as it unfolded (edited for time and content, of course) to these school kids. I told them how scared I was of that meeting and the battle that would come my way. It was at that moment when a young man raised his hand to ask this profound question:
So you fight until the war is over?
A reporter politely asked me once why we (conservatives) keep fighting for prolife legislation when we know it will continue to be defeated. We keep fighting because those lives should be protected, and we can't give up until they are. I trust God's plan, regardless of the outcome. He can *seal* the mouths of the lions!