Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Visiting the State Capital of PA

We took a field trip to Pennsylvania's state Capital, Harrisburg to learn how laws are passed at the state level. We were told the House was in session and were able to sit in on a debate over road tax. What an experience that was! Those of us in the gallery were told (very nicely) to be very quiet or we would be removed from the gallery! However, being quiet and respectful was not what was happening on the House floor, while various representatives were talking, other representatives were reading the newspaper, talking on their phones, working on their lap tops computers, eating lunch, or talking with their neighbors. It was extremely noisy on the floor. Even my 10 year old asked why no one was listening to the speakers and how could anyone know what was being said as it was so noisy and no one appeared to be listening, except for maybe the stenographer who had to type all that was being said. I wouldn't want that job!!! Later we met a very nice gentleman in the elevator (not sure who he was) who explained that most of the real discussions on the bill were done in private sessions for each party and the representatives already know how they wish to vote and that today's session was just a formality. I have never witness government in action before so this was all new to me! Honestly, it just re affirmed my opinion that the whole system is really messed up:( .

The Capital Building

The Grand staircase made of marble

While we were there a group of people from Penn state arrived and covered the entire staircase and then some

Picture taken from above. Not exactly sure why they were there but lots of speakers and clapping and cheering. We decided it was time to avoid the crowd and head to the welcome center

While on our way we see a news reporter reporting on the gathering. My kids were amazed their was no camera man there he was doing it all on his own. I watched the evening news to see if he was on but didn't see it. My Dad thought he might be with the college news program if there is such a thing as he didn't recognize the call letters on the mike for local PA news channels.

We watched a movie about the state of PA

Played a game to learn about the state symbols and there is more than just the state flower and tree. There is a state dog, insect, train, ship and a whole host of other things I never knew:)

Learning how laws are passed. Little Man was more interested in the ball maze than reading the signs:(

Working thru the 12 step process to make a bill become a law. Here the kids are voting whether there should be a law about no school on your birthday. Just guess how my kids voted:)!

I was unable to take any pictures while up in the gallery as we watched the House of Representatives debate. This was taken outside on the lobby TV screen. Just one of the speakers we heard.

Based on the debates we heard the Democrats are for the passing of this bill while the Republicans are against it.

My Mom had heard that you could request a copy of the law being debated so after getting directions we headed down to the documentation room.

Here we picked up a copy of the law. It is thirty nine pages long! I don't have access to a scanner at my parents or else I would scan in a page of this proposed bill to show you. I read thru it and most of the wording appears to be standard legal stuff before you get to the real meat of the law which is only about a dozen pages. If this law passes you can expect more tolls on PA state roads and more road taxes. My Dad was NOT happy!!!

As we were leaving the Penn state rally was dispersing and we were invited to join the line for ice cream! It is not every day you go to the capital building and get free ice cream. I got to sample the PA state alumni ice cream vanilla with blueberry swirl and chocolate chips. It was good

Although my parents and I did wonder if the tax payers paid for this ice cream!!!!

This was a great field trip experience!!! I don't know if other capital building are open for visitors (minus the free ice cream) but if so I encourage you to take your children. I intend to do it again when my children are older and we return to the states permanently.

This July we have a field trip planned with the British home edders to see Parliament in action and I can't wait to see what that is like to compare! I will be sure to post about it:).

I am linking this post up to the Home school field trip hop...see button on my side bar:)


  1. Again, I loved your adventure and was enlightened. I have never attended a meeting like this; but believe that perhaps we should be more involved in doing this. I am sure it was a great experience for your children and both of you.
    Again, you amaze me!

  2. I'm with you, the more I learn about the way government works, the more screwed up it seems to be. It is amazing that anything positive ever gets done!

  3. WOW!!! That would be a neat experience. I don't think Joey could have kept quiet He would have been screaming at them from the gallery to not be so rude!

  4. What a cool experience. A few years back we visited the California Capital Building. Our experience was much different. What I remember most was the grounds which were covered with trees from all over the world. Our trip ended up being more of a science lesson.