A Day in The Life of a Citizen Legislator
The Doctor’s Note: A Day in the Life
What does a typical day or week during Session look like for me?
5:00am – I am up and at it, reading through my electronic docket for the day. This is a database we use to keep track of constituent contact, bill information, and other key elements that will assist me in making my vote on legislation that comes before me. This is especially important since some of my committee assignments overlap, and I find myself running from one place to the next.
7:00-11:30am - A typical day starts with a committee meeting, subcommittee meeting, or both. On Mondays I still see patients at my practice before my first Senate commitment, which begins later in the morning. Each Wednesday I head in to perform surgeries before I go back down to the General Assembly for Finance Committee at 9:00 am.
11:30am – We walk over to the Capitol to meet for Caucus, where we review upcoming bills and discuss strategy.
12:00pm – The Senate commences promptly at noon. Tune in daily and watch Session live by going here.
2:00-6:00pm - Upon adjournment, we head off to committee meetings, subcommittee meetings, and finally I go to Finance subcommittees, which meet late in the afternoon. Since the beginning of this year’s session, I have been added to the General Laws and Technology Committee and to one of its subcommittees. I’ve also been added to the Finance Education Subcommittee, which meets twice a week to cover both K-12 and higher education funding. I am on three Finance subcommittees – Health and Human Resources, Education, and Transportation. Some of my committee meetings overlap. I read the dockets before each meeting, and proxy out so I am able to vote in both committees. In addition to my regular committee assignments, when one of my bills comes up in another committee, I must be there to speak to it, and attempt to persuade those committee members to vote for it and move it forward.
6:30pm – This is typically when we finish up in committee, and I end my day in the office where I de-brief with my team. We go over who they met with, the messages they shared, who called/emailed, what issues are receiving attention, as well as other urgent action items. We run through legislation I am carrying and where each piece is in the legislative process.
A good bill starts with a need or problem, but it is shaped and reshaped by input, interested parties, review of existing policy and programs, and cost. If implementation requires agency work, it’s best to gain buy-in there too. There is quite a bit of leg work, phone conversations, meetings, and consensus building.
Much of my time this next week will be spent in Finance committee meetings making difficult decisions about where we can save money, and what programs absolutely need funding. We will balance the budget, live within our means, and report the Senate budget this Sunday afternoon.