And They all Rose...(House Bill 601 - January 24, 2012)

Re-posted from a great friend, Gene:

Today was an important day.  For Chrissy McLaughlin.  For April Loposky.  For Jenni Carper.  And for me.

Today was the laying of the cornerstone of a concept borne of tragedy; to create equality & some sense of justice for those who have lost a child to abuse.

 Today was the day the PA House of Representatives would consider for passage, House Bill 601, known as Zachary's Law.

Zachary is Chrissy's son.  For 2 years now, she has fought in his name to create a mandatory minimum sentence for those convicted of 3rd Degree Murder when the victim is under age 13. 

Rep. Kevin Murphy heard her story. And he believed.  He never quit.  Ever.

We arrived in Harrisburg today believing by day's end Zachary's Law would pass the House.  Many had joined in support.  But, there was still uncertainty until the vote was cast.

The day was spent speaking to a few members who had more questions about the Bill.  We explained.  They listened.

At about 2:45PM today, House Bill 601 was called for a vote.

Rep. Murphy rose to speak in support of the Bill.  He spoke eloquently.  Then, the floor was opened.  It was time for opponents to raise their concerns; voice their criticism.  No one really knew what to expect.

Seconds one stood to speak.  Then, Rep. Vitali (D- Delaware Co.) approached the microphone.

What would he say.  We knew his support was uncertain.  He praised Chrissy for her courage.  But, he would not support the Bill.  He quizzed Rep. Murphy of the content of the Bill and it's impact.  Murphy was stellar.  Unbending, respectful and keenly focused on getting this Bill passed.

As Rep. Vitali spoke against the Bill.  Something was happening.  We weren't sure exactly what but a sense of anticipation came over me.  Chrissy was seated in the Chamber-watching, listening.  Tearfully.

And a member of Rep. Vitali's party walked past us, out of the Chamber.  As he did, he looked at us and said "I can't listen to this".  

Then, members left their seats.  Rep. Tarah Toohil came and sat next to Chrissy.  She offered her support.  It was hard to believe someone elected to protect the most defenseless in our communities would take a stand against this Bill.  But, what Rep. Vital did, by his opposition, was electrify the entire Chamber.  Members rose to speak. One by one. To support the Bill.  To support Zachary.  To support Chrissy.

Then,  Rep. Ron Waters of Philadelphia rose.  Historically, he does not support mandatory sentences.  But today, in a booming, impassioned & powerful voice, he explained this Bill was different.  He would support it.  He encouraged all of the members to support it.  And, in an unexpected way, he directed his comments to Chrissy.  Thanked her for her courage.  Empathized with her profound loss.  The tide was turning...really turning.  Rep. Murphy had done his homework & educated the House on the importance of this Bill.  Now, it was paying dividends.

Others spoke, Stevens, Caltigrone, Turzai, Dermody...all in support.

Then the vote.  The lights on the board turned to green....192 times.  And one turned red, a "no" vote from Vitali.

HB 601 passed 192-1.

And then they all rose...

One by one, member after member,  Democrat and Republican, they stood, turned to Chrissy....and applauded.  The sound reverberated thru the entire Chamber.  What a tribute Zachary.  And, to his courageous mom, Chrissy.

She moved a mountain today.  The work is not done & the support of each of you has been crucial to the success of Zachary's Law.

The battle is joined.  Failure is not an option.  

Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable...