by Kylie McNaught, intern in the Texas Legislative Study Group
Today is the beginning of the third week of the Legislative Session. I’ve just finished a day filled with practicing writing bill analyses. I am part of the Texas Legislative Study Group (LSG), a caucus of the House of Representatives that puts out reports on each bill for its members as bills hit the floor. For the past two weeks (three, really, if you consider the week of learning prior to session), we have had a whirlwind of education. At this time we do not have committees assigned to each of the interns to follow, and are instead being prepared for what is yet to come. During the last two weeks, we have had speakers come and brief those of us in the LSG on various topics that are pertinent for us to know prior to our committee assignments.
Some of these topics are heady, like Eva DeLuna Castro and Dick Lavine from the Center for Public Policy Priorities discussing with us the budget and taxes, respectively. Others have been a little more social worker friendly, like Medicaid and public education. Even on days that seem short, I tend to leave mentally exhausted from the bounty of information I’ve collected.
Beyond this we’ve begun to learn to read and understand bills and how to research them. Initially this was intimidating – I’ve rarely attempted to read legal documents, and it felt over my head. Now, as I’m on my twelfth practice bill analysis, it’s starting to come easier.
After the workday, if there is some kind of event where we can meet other staffers, most of us are happy to go fill our bellies and make connections. Last week we attended an event with AT&T, which, in the words of another GCSW intern, was a “fancy affair.” There were staffers and members alike. It was interesting to see people interact and wind down, and the food was not bad either. Two days later we attended a happy hour with the Texas Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW-TX). It was at a German style Beer Garten and was staffer-only. I made connections with staffers whose members had bills addressing affordable housing, which is a field I’m personally interested in, as well as with a staffer for my home representative. Today, Southwest Airlines had a mid-day ice-cream social, which was probably the most populated event I’d been to thus far. It’s nice to allow ourselves small rewards after a long day’s work. For the meantime, we are all trying to fit in time for networking and fun while it’s still the calm before the storm.