So with just a few appointments on my calendar today (mostly my spiritual directees checking in for the summer) I’m starting to figure out what I need to take with me to Anaheim from my pile of General Convention material and what I can safely leave behind.
For my first General Convention I pretty much took the whole pile. It’s a surprisingly large pile of information for those who haven’t been deputies. You get all sorts of “free advice” books and pamphlets in the run up to Convention. Some of them have great and useful details about upcoming legislation (like the ones I’ve gotten from the Pension Fund). Some of them are basically campaign brochures from people running for Executive Council or the Pension Fund board. (Actually this year most of those have come by email – so it’s going to be much easier to keep track of them on the floor of convention. I’ll just need to make sure I have offline access to my email.)
I’m debating whether or not it makes sense to schlepp the Blue Book hard copy though. I have a nice PDF version of it on my laptop. I’ll be carrying my laptop either way to pretty much everything. And the full copy of the Blue Book actually weighs a little more than my laptop does. On the other hand laptops do die occasionally, and then what would I do?
My first convention I dutifully bought a little wheeled suitcase to carry all the needed material with me from my hotel room to the floor of the Convention daily. The thing was that about the second day I realized that I had no time to read the materials back in my hotel room. I was better off leaving everything at my seat on the floor in the Convention center. Besides, we rarely had legislation coming out to us in time that we’d be able to take it with us overnight to our rooms. (Though this actually got a little better in Columbus.) Instead I used the time that we “wasted” with all the greetings to the House by very important visitors to read the legislation that was upcoming. I never really fell all that much behind. Plus, when we voted on something, there was generally time to read the legislation while people where speaking to the matter during the debate.
There are really only a few bills that one can manage to track on ones own during convention. If you keep an ear out for when those are going to be coming to the floor, you’re really doing as much prep work as you can. People tend to speak to bills that they’ve been tracking through Convention. I’ll speak to the Moravian-Episcopal Full Communion agreement when it comes out the floor for a vote. I’ll track all the Communications legislation, but that will be relatively easy to do since I’m serving on the legislative committee. Most of the Communications legislation ends up on the consent calendar anyhow.
(Brief digression: The consent calendar is a daily omnibus resolution that includes all the various resolutions that have been reported out of committee and which are not particularly viewed as controversial. The whole mess gets passed in one fell swoop. If a resolution is listed on the consent calendar and there are objections to that listing, deputies can move to have that resolution broken out and brought to the floor separately. But that’s fraught with some peril because of the crowded schedule. In 2006 the majority (I believe, I could be wrong it might be a little less) of resolutions that were reported out of committee to the floor never came to a vote. We were reduced to trying to pass them one by one with a minute or less of debate in the final afternoon of Convention. Taking a resolution off the Consent Calendar and putting it back into play with the Dispatch of Business Committee means you risk having the bill go to the end of the line. Which is a good strategy if you are in opposition to a bill. Bad plan if you favor it – it might end up never being voted upon.)
(Returning to the original flow now:) Since I find that I do most of my reading on the floor during the breaks and while people are speaking to issues that don’t really need to be spoken to, I’m thinking I might continue my practice of leaving my GIANT binder of resolutions and my other reference material on the Convention floor. Which means less to schlep. Which is good.
I think I might look through the pile and see if I can download any of the documents… especially the Pension Fund docs. That would save a lot of weight and give me a quickly searchable copy. And may some of the booklets I can send to the scanner in advance of my leaving this afternoon. That would help too.
Someday we’re going to get to the point where we really don’t need to use as much paper. We’re not there yet…
Oh yeah, that reminds me, I need to find out where I stashed my little office tools in a notebook kit that I use at Convention. I think I remembered to pack it when we moved out here to Phoenix. Gotta run. More later…