By Dale L. Skran, Deputy Chair, NSS Policy Committee
During the month of August 2014, NSS volunteer Blitz teams visited 24 Representatives and Senators from states with a population totaling over 60 million and with a total of 76 representatives.
The August Blitz ran strong in California, boosted by the Space Society of Silicon Valley with help from the Sacramento L5 Society (led by Joe and Donna Bland) and new blitzers Brandon Larson, Doug Plata and Eric Opdahl. Teams participated in meetings with key leaders whose districts/states were blitzed: Representative Nancy Pelosi (CA-12), Senator Barbara Boxer (CA), Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA), House Ways & Means Committee Member Mike Thompson (CA-05), House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) and Representative Barbara Lee (CA-13).
The blitzed districts included those of three members of the House Space Sub-Committee: Ami Bera (CA-07), Julia Brownley (CA-26) and Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48). In addition to this, blitz teams struck at the offices of key members of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, including Eric Swalwell (CA-15), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19) and Scott Peters (CA-52). The Space Society of Silicon Valley made a practice of attempting to both talk to the Representative in the local district and the space staffers in the DC offices, noting “The hot topics were space commercialization, infrastructure, entrepreneurship, economic development, spaceport locality development, space research and STEM education. Space has a lot of support!”
Other key local coordinators include the Denver Space Society (Jim Barnard, President) and Karen Mermel (Illinois). Jim Barnard led the team that talked to Representative Mike Coffman (CO-6). Representative Coffman has most recently been in the public eye as one of three signers of an open letter to NASA Administrator Bolden calling attention to supposed “anomalies” in SpaceX operations.
The Oklahoma team led by NSS member Steve Swift met with Representative James Lankford (OK-5), who is running for a Senate seat with an excellent chance of winning. This is the kind of long-lead work that ultimately creates influence on Capitol Hill.
Dale Skran, NSS August Home District Blitz Coordinator, said “This was a great first effort and we learned a lot. There was excellent web support from Fred Becker and David-Brandt Erichsen. Larry Ahearn worked hard to get the word out to the chapters. We’ll build on this effort and do more next year.”