Summer Internship at the Texas Capitol

A couple of weeks ago, I began my internship at the Texas Capitol in Austin, Texas.  If you have not been to the Capitol before, it is beautiful and impressive; I highly suggest visiting this historic building.  Staring up into the large Texas star high at the top of the rotunda, the historic legacy of Texas is apparent with the portraits of past Governors surrounding those within the rotunda walls. A Californian born and bred, I was a little intimidated by the guards walking around with their large Texas cowboy hats and aviator glasses, but their smiles are disarming every day I come through the doors, and they are extremely friendly and engaging whenever I stop to talk to them. The office I work in is equally friendly: my co-workers are very warm and approachable; I am immediately put at ease in this very open and transparent space.

For the last couple of weeks, I have had the intellectual luxury of having the time to do almost nothing but read and write about policy. This luxury of time to review documents is the benefit of working during a time when the Texas Legislature is not in session. During the session, I hear from many people that exercise and sufficient amounts of sleep would be considered a luxury.

Compared to internships in the past, the legislative director has only held me responsible for learning during my first month here. This was apparent from the beginning as my acceptance letter read simply, “Start reading everything you can get your hands on about Medicaid, the 1115 waiver, Senate Bill 7 from last session, and health and human services in general. When can you start?”

This week, things will ramp up a bit at the office as we are anticipating the arrival of two large binders of materials for the two hearings next week, for School Finance and Health and Human Services. Once we receive those binders, we will have about 2-3 days to review the hundreds of pages there within, and then formulate relevant questions to ask during the hearing. I am hoping that the month I have spent learning about these subjects will prepare me with the ability to contribute to next week’s hearing.

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About cbrass

Chelsea Brass is a Master of Public Affairs (MPAff) student working for State Senator Royce West (D-Dallas) at the Texas Capitol in Austin. Senator West is Chairman of the Intergovernmental Relations Committee, and a member of Senate committees on Finance, Education, Higher Education, and Health and Human Services. Chelsea will be assisting the Legislative Director mostly with Health and Human Services, which includes working on issues of Medicare/Medicaid reform, the expansion of managed care, fraud reform, and developmental disabilities.

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