At the Capitol: the life of a page

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Lexi Weber '14 stands with the speaker of the house to welcome a group of visitors.

Shirley

With the buzz of resolutions to bring in the new year, the Iowa state legislature has an agenda of its own. The WSS gets an inside look into the new session as Lexi Weber ’14 talks about her role as a page to House Representative Dave Maxwell, the lawmaking process, and hearing firsthand discussions on hot issues like abortion and gun ownership.

 

What is a regular day for you like in the House? What’s your favorite part of the day?

We usually gavel in at 8:30, read in bills, and then recess until 4:00 or 5:00 later that day. During the day I usually take pictures for representatives, write press releases, respond to constituents, respond to phone calls about concern over a bill/a bill dying in committee and sit in on meetings, press releases or committee/subcommittee meetings. Then we gavel in and bring bills to the floor or debate bills. My favorite part of the day is definitely getting to sit in on meetings because it gives me a clear idea of what kind of support the bill has from the legislators and where the bill at within the process of getting it to the floor and officially passed.

How have your responsibilities or to-do list changed since you’ve become a page?
Definitely. I work a lot of hours and I am definitely very busy during the day. Because I take advantage of as many committees/subcommittees as I can, I usually skip my breaks and lunch breaks to finish my work, but I like it that way. I like knowing that I’m taking full advantage of the opportunity I’ve been given. The plus side is I usually get all my work done while I’m at the capitol, so it’s not like school where you have to take homework home. I definitely like this aspect of it.

What do you typically do after a work day?
Right now we usually get off of work at about 5:00 or 5:30 so all the pages usually do something together. Everyone’s awesome and we are all so close. We usually just go out to dinner but we’ve done everything from shopping, to ice skating, to going to SkyZone. We’re always looking for a way to unwind after work. As more bills start coming to the floor and we start to debate, there will be many days where we don’t leave work until 8:00 10:00 or midnight.

What are some hot topic issues on the table right now in the House/Senate? What is your role in the debate?

At the state of the state address, Branstad stated focus on reducing student debt and mentioned the following acts: Bully-Free Iowa Act, Home Base Iowa Act, Connect Every Iowan Act, Iowa Apprenticeship and Job Training Act. Some controversial or hot topic issues right now going through committees are bills that address abortions via telemedicine and Constitutional Carry and Stand Your Ground legislation.

How has school or your classes at West prepared you for this job?
I have to say there is a big difference between learning government in a classroom and learning it by experiencing it. I’ve gotten such a better idea of how the system really works by being surrounded by it every day. Some things are more difficult than I thought they’d be and others are much simpler than the textbook made me believe. That being said, West High and specifically AP Government with Mr. Shutt has prepared me very well.

Do you like it so far? How does the job compare to what you expected?

I am in love with my job so far. It’s great to know that while making money for college, I am also experiencing the lawmaking process on a daily basis, and making connections with people that could lead to such great things in the future! In many ways, the job is similar to what I expected, but I can honestly say that it’s better than I imagined. The representatives are so down-to-earth and all the pages get along so well. I’m getting opportunities that some people don’t get in their lifetime and every day I’m grateful that I decided to take the risk and apply. I would strongly suggest that more kids from West High look into the page program, and I am always happy to answer any questions that people may have.