Power of One
Legislative session is over for this year! We got a lot accomplished and we have so much to be proud about! Many of the bills that Mockingbird advocated for have been signed by Governor Inslee and that is an accomplishment we should all celebrate.
While we at Mockingbird come up with the ideas for bills, many more people are involved in the process.The legislative staff are the ones that actually write the bills and support their elected officials during the process of making them law. This session, I got to experience firsthand the support and effort that helped make these bills into law.
I had the amazing opportunity this past legislative session to job shadow Senator O’Ban and his staff. This was equally as exciting as it was terrifying because walking into his office, I really had no idea what to expect. His Senior Legislative Aide, Michelle Lewis, was very welcoming along with the rest of the staff. I was told that the Senator had been pulled onto the floor for the day and would have very little time to talk, so I would be shadowing Michelle for most of the day. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise because I would get to learn just how much a legislative aide really does for their elected official.
The day started with Michelle giving me a tour of the floor where state legislators meet and getting a chance to talk to Senator O’Ban for a bit. Afterwards we headed back to the office. This is when I learned that Michelle knew every bill that came across Senator O’Ban’s desk as well as the ones he had proposed and championed. You could say a bill number and she could tell you what it would do and where it was at that very moment! Incredible! There were over 100 bills introduced in the Senate during the 2018 session alone.
Michelle had a TV behind her desk so she could see what was happening with bills and what was changing on the floor in real-time. Everything can change very quickly and her job is so fast paced that without live-action TV, she might miss something important.
My favorite part of the job shadow was when Michelle invited me to join her in a meeting with constituents. Since Senator O’Ban was currently occupied on the floor, Michelle took on his meetings. I got to sit in on two meetings where constituents were talking about bills that they supported. I am used to being the advocate in these meetings so it was intriguing to be on the other side. I had the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about bills and the language around them — like the term “sunsetting.” This was a term I had never heard before and I found out it means a bill is set for a set amount of years, then it just ends. This was just one term of many that I learned about that day.
The biggest thing I learned was just how important a role like Michelle's is. I hadn’t realized how much behind-the-scenes work it takes for a senator or representative to be able to do their job effectively. Being a legislative aide is a difficult and fast-paced job but well worth it for those who have the energy for it. They research bills, set up meetings, read and correspond to hundreds of emails from constituents and lots more! I am very grateful to have had the chance to shadow Senator O’Ban and Michelle, and for all that I learned that day.