From the museum
Since many of you found my first two days of introduction to the House of Representatives interesting, I thought you might also want to know about the activities I participated in last week during the official orientation session known as the 38th Institute of Legislative Procedure.
It was a weeklong “school” held from 9 a.m. until 4:30 or 5:30, depending on the information presented and tasks required.
Monday began with an introduction of the “faculty” for the week and welcoming remarks from outgoing Speaker of the House Robbie Wills and Speaker-designate Robert Moore. Then we were well-instructed on our required computer skills by Jim Schratz, the chief information officer of the technology division of the Bureau of Legislative Research. He presented our official government e-mail addresses and covered all the various governmental sites we will need to be able to browse and use during the session.
Then House Parliamentarian Tim Massinelli gave us our huge legislative manuals of instruction and proceeded to outline the information they held concerning the roles and responsibilities of the General Assembly, the legislative process, practical aspects of passing a bill in the House, the functions of House committees and some of his tips for success. The last class for Monday was an overview of the process and experience seen through the eyes of two freshmen representatives from last session.
Tuesday classes covered directions as to where and when we could seek information and assistance for any problems we might encounter. These sources and their areas of expertise included the Legislative Council, the Bureau of Legislative Research, drafting services, fiscal services and research services.
Tuesday afternoon we had sessions on a mock committee meeting, ethics and policies, and introductions to the House staff.
A very inspiring, emotional event occurred Tuesday afternoon in the rotunda. A memorial service was held in honor of Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, and its victims. It was a touching experience and I was privileged to attend. I remembered the two young men from Drew County, Oscar Miles and Rodney Foss, who lost their lives that dreadful day. .
Wednesday we got down to the nitty-gritty. The morning was a mock session with bill introductions, debates, and votes cast. We got a glimpse of how quickly things will move along when the session begins. It was fast and furious!!
(Wednesday morning I also got to the rotunda in time to hear the Woodlawn High School chorus sing Christmas songs. They did a great job!)
That afternoon we heard more about constituent services, dealing with lobbyists and the Legislative Auditing Committee.
Thursday was filled with overviews of selected state agencies as to their functions and duties. (None mentioned budgets!) Those agencies making presentations were the Department of Health, the Department of Human Services, the Department of Correction, the Department of Community Correction, the Department of Education and the Department of Higher Education. (Each gave us handouts or booklets and each presenter stayed to answer all questions.)
The afternoon also included a session on communications services within the legislature and the importance of the rules book we had been given.
Friday morning’s session consisted of an information systems follow-up and a question-answer period about any of the week’s subject matter. We adjourned at lunch.
Since it had been suggested that we begin to attend our committee meetings as a guest prior to the official “swearing-in” ceremony, I stayed after lunch to attend a meeting of the Public Health committee.
Now you may be wondering what I made of all of this. Well, my head was swimming - partly from all of the information set forth and partly from my sinuses! (Recent replastering on the pillars in the House, along with mold, gave me fits! Now I am aware of it and can be prepared in January!)
It will be an exciting and busy time for all of us and we have lots of studying to do before January 10! I am privileged to be your representative.